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By Rev. J. B. WAKELEY. 




3i % 

t> 6 

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1S69, 


in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for 
the Southern District of New York. 


There is a story related of a man who opened 
the door and put his head into Paradise, and, 
seeing many strange faces there, said, " Gentle- 
men, I hope I do not intrude ; if I do, I can 
walk out again." So, in presenting this book, 
I hope I do not "intrude if I do, "I can 
walk out again" — the reader can lay it down 
and select some other volume more congenial 
to his taste. 

I am aware there are those who undervalue 
anecdotes, and others who ridicule them. Men 
may ridicule them till they are gray, but the 
people will read them. There are persons who, 
if they wish to eulogize a preacher, will say, 
"he never tells any stories in the pulpit; he 
relates no anecdotes." So preached not the 
Wesleys, or Whitefield, or Coke, or Asbury, or 
M'Kendree. They all related anecdotes and 
incidents in the pulpit. 

The late Judge M'Lean highly commends the 
practice. He says, " Some preachers are op- 
posed to what they call story-telling in their 
sermons. This was practiced in the early age 
of Methodism, and it was admirably suited to 
those times; and, if more practiced, it would 



be found just as well suited to the present 

Some time ago I was in company with the 
Bishops, and Bishop Morris (our archbishop) 
said, " I must return to the method of the fa- 
thers, relating anecdotes and incidents in preach- 
ing;" and Bishop Ames said, "Take away the 
stories from the Bible, and what have we left." 

The anecdotes in this volume have been ob- 
tained from all the biographies of the Wesleys ; 
from Tyreinan's "Life 'of Samuel Wesley, Sen. ;" 
Kirk's "Mother of the Wesleys;" Jackson's 
"Life of Charles Wesley;" Adam Clarke's 
"Wesley Family;" John Wesley's "Works," 
particularly his Journals, which contain his best 
biography ; the Arminian and Wesleyan Maga- 
zines; and from hundreds of volumes and 
pamphlets. Some of them were never published 

It is singular we have books of anecdotes of 
poets and painters, of heroes, philosophers, and 
statesmen, and have hitherto had no volume of 
Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

For over twelve years I have been gathering 
these anecdotes, and it is with confidence I 
submit this book to the public, believing it will 
detract nothing from the fame of the Wesleys, 
but will awaken a desire to know more concern- 
ing them, and will be read with interest when 
the writer sleeps in the dust. 


" The history of men who have been prime 
agents in those great moral and intellectual 
revolutions which from time to time take place 
among mankind^is not less important than that 
of statesmen and conquerors. There may come 
a time when the name of Wesley will be more 
generally known, and in remoter regions of the 
globe, than that of Frederick or Catharine. 
For the works of such men survive them, and 
continue to operate, when nothing remains of 
worldly ambition but the memory of its vanity 
and its guilt." So wrote Eobert South ey fifty 
years ago. The "time" for the fulfillment of 
his prediction has arrived earlier, doubtless, 
than he dreamed. There is now no land in 
which the name of Wesley is not known to more 
persons than those of Frederick and Catharine. 
And the fragrance of that name grows richer 
with the lapse of time. 



The glory of John Wesley has, to a large ex- 
tent, been shared by all his family. But they 
were a rare breed, for two or three generations 
at least, nearly all distinguished for wit, intelli- 
gence, and accomplishments. 

The present volume is a contribution, in a 
new form, to our knowledge of these rare Wes- 
leys. From the old Greek days, anecdotes of 
eminent persons have always been held to be 
one of the most delightful forms of composition. 
Anecdotes delight us by gratifying our natural 
curiosity to know something of the more private 
ways and thoughts of people whose public lives 
have been distinguished. It is, moreover, often 
the case that " an apparently insignificant anec- 
dote throws an entirely new light on the history 
of the most admired works, or the most brilliant 
actions." * 

Mr. "Wakeley has been happily inspired in 
the conception of this book of anecdotes. The 
execution of his task is also felicitous. The 
public will owe him gratitude for this contri- 
bution not merely to their entertainment but to 
their instruction. 

* Edinburgh Review, xxxiii, 302. 


- +«+ — 




Eev. Samuel Wesley, Sen., M.A 19 

Samuel Wesley's First Parsonage 21 

Samuel Wesley's Description of his Wife 21 

Samuel Wesley and the Profane Officer 22 

Samuel Wesley and Queen Mary 23 

Samuel Wesley's Life of Christ 25 

Samuel Wesley and his Persecutors 26 

Samuel Wesley and Archbishop Sharpe 27 

Samuel Wesley and the Chief Man of the Town 31 

Samuel Wesley and the Eescued Hymn 32 

Samuel Wesley and his Advisers 32 

Samuel Wesley and the Dishonest Parmer 33 

Samuel Wesley and his Dying Parishioner 34 

Samuel Wesley and the Mysterious Noises at Ep worth 34 

Samuel Wesley and his Comical Clerk 37 

Samuel Wesley and the Miser 38 

Samuel Wesley and his Curate 39 

Samuel Wesley reproved by his Son 40 

Samuel Wesley and his Son John 41 

Samuel Wesley and John Dry den . , 42 

Samuel Wesley and his Son Charles 42 

Samuel Wesley and the Pellow of Lincoln 43 

Samuel Wesley on Eidicule 43 

Samuel Wesley and Fine Sermons , 44 

Samuel Wesley's Great Loss 44 

Samuel Wesley, his Sons and the Prisoners 45 

Samuel Wesley's Dissertations on the Book of Job 46 

Samuel Wesley's Dying Predictions 48 

Archbishop Sharpe and the Highwayman 29 



book n. 



Susanna Wesley 53 

Susanna "Wesley and her Sister 57 

Susanna "Wesley and Socinianism 58 

Susanna Wesley and Crying Children 55 

Susanna Wesley and Family Government 58 

Susanna Wesley and her eldest Child 59 

Susanna Wesley, her Husband, and Sammy 59 

Susanna Wesley and the Education of her Children 60 

Susanna Wesley and her Son John 61 

Susanna Wesley and her Daughter Emilia 62 

Susanna Wesley and her Daughter Martha 63 

Susanna Wesley and the Archbishop of York 64 

Susanna Wesley and her Husband 64 

Susanna Wesley and the Unauthorized Meetings 65 

Susanna Wesley, her Husband and Brother 67 

Susanna Wesley and her Bereaved Brother . 68 

Susanna Wesley and Amusements 68 

Susanna Wesley, Charles, and Samuel 69 

Susanna Wesley and her Grandchildren 70 

Susanna Wesley, John, and Charles 70 

Susanna Wesley, John, and his Mission 71 

Susanna Wesley, John, and Thomas Maxfield 71 

Martha and her Brothers 63 

Martha and Samuel Johnson « 65 


John Wesley, A. M 75 

J ohn Wesley and the Eire 73 

John Wesley at the Charter-house School 80 

John "Wesley and Dr. Henry Sacheverell , 81 

John Wesley and his Brother Samuel 82 

John Wesley and the Poor Maid . 83 

John Wesley and the Serious Man 84 

John Wesley and the Holy Club 85 

Contents. 9 


John Wesley on Eeason 86 

John Wesley and William Law 87 

John Wesley and Apostolical Nostrums 88 

John Wesley and his Fellow Tutors 89 

John Wesley and Plain People 89 

John Wesley and Queen Caroline 90 

John Wesley and the Storm at Sea 91 

John Wesley and Eeligious Quixotism 92 

John Wesley and General Oglethorpe 92 

John Wesley and Spangenberg 95 

John Wesley and the Indian Chief 96 

John Wesley's early Promise and Sir Edward Seaward 97 

John Wesley and the result of his Mission 98 

John Wesley .and Peter Boehler . . 99 

John Wesley's Conversion 101 

John Wesley and his Host 102 

John Wesley and the Bigot 104 

John Wesley and the Bishop of Londonderry 105 

John Wesley and the Ungrateful Young Man 106 

John Wesley and Thomas Westell 106 

John Wesley and Bobert Ainsworth — 107 

John Wesley's Eirst Extemporaneous Sermon 108 

John Wesley and the Prince Boyal 109 

John Wesley and Extempore Prayer 110 

John Wesley and Charles Simeon Ill 

.John Wesley and Martin Madan 113 

John Wesley and J ohn Nelson 114 

John Wes]ey and Nelson's hard Bed . 115 

John Wesley and William Bramwell 116 

John Wesley and his Traveling Companion 116 

John Wesley and the Young Quaker 117 

John Wesley and John King 118 

John Wesley and the Polite Audience 120 

John Wesley and his Sister Emilia 120 

John Wesley, John Hampson, and the Mob 121 

John Wesley and the Young Preacher 122 

John Wesley and the Eenowned Pugilist 123 

John Wesley and the Old Servant 126 

John Wesley and the Curate Eomley 127 

John Wesley and Dr. Priestley 130 

John Wesley and Bishop Lavington 130 

John Wesley and Bishop Warburton 131 

John Wesley and Beau Nash 131 

John Wesley and the Ladies of Bath 133 

John Wesley and the Subdued Mob 134 

I o Contents, 


John Wesley and Doctor Gibson 134 

John Wesley and the Plain Man 135 

John Wesley and Mr. Bailey 135 

John Wesley and the Mayor of Cork 136 

John Wesley and the Irish Justice of the Peace 137 

John Wesley and the Babble 133 

John Wesley, the Persecuted Methodists, and the King 139 

John Wesley and Whitefield's Will 142 

John Wesley and the Young Critic 143 

John Wesley and Mr. Whitelainb 144 

John Wesley and the Slandering Woman 146 

John Wesley and the Ostler 146 

John Wesley and the Benevolent Lady 151 

John Wesley and James Hervey 157 

John Wesley and the Eleven Letters of James Hervey 15S 

John Wesley and Sir Eichard Hill 159 

John Wesley and the Earl of Huntingdon 161 

John Wesley and the Inquiring Lady 163 

John Wesley's Begard for Walsh 172 

John Wesley and the Captain's Excuses 177 

John Wesley and the Young Lady 178 

John Wesley and the Music Master 180 

John Wesley and the Quaker's Dream 181 

John Wesley's Bule of Living 182 

John Wesley and the Eich Methodists 184 

John Wesley and Lady Huntingdon 184 

John Wesley and Eobert Dodsley 185 

John Wesley's Christian Library 186 

John Wesley and Philip Doddridge 187 

John Wesley on Homer 188 

John Wesley on Style 189 

John Wesley on Music 190 

John Wesley and his Patients 190 

John Wesley and Eoyalty 192 

John Wesley and his Epitaph 194 

John Wesley and Bishop Lowth 196 

John Wesley and the Hard-hearted Officer 19 S 

John Wesley and the Beggars 199 

John Wesley and the Wag 200 

John Wesley and the Conscientious Man 201 

John Wesley and the Will 201 

John Wesley and the Swine-herd 202 

John Wesley and the Attentive Hearer 202 

John Wesley and the Apostate 203 

John Wesley and James Watson 2"3 

Contents. 1 1 


John Wesley and the Female Impostor 204 

John Wesley and the False Prophets 204 

John Wesley and the Keformed Drunkard 205 

John Wesley and the Notorious Drunkard 206 

John Wesley and Silas Told 215 

John Wesley and Dr. Johnson 217 

John Wesley and the Eedemption of Time 218 

John Wesley and Edward Bolton 218 

John Wesley and Grace Murray 219 

John Wesley and Mrs, Vizelle 221 

John Wesley and the Legacy 222 

John Wesley and the History of England 224 

John Wesley and Poor Louisa 225 

John Wesley and Sophia Coke 227 

John Wesley and the Little Child 229 

John Wesley and Matthias Joyce 229 

John Wesley and the Little Boy 230 

John Wesley and the Inquiring Preacher 230 

John Wesley and the Little Girl 231 

John Wesley and the Children 231 

John Wesley and Mr. Cordeux 234 

John Wesley and the Woman who was a Sinner 235 

John Wesley and the Criminal 237 

John Wesley and the Anxious Man 238 

John Wesley and the Discouraged Minister 238 

John Wesley and the Egg Man 238 

John Wesley and the Commissioners of Excise 240 

John Wesley and Thomas Holy 245 

John Wesley and Johm Hilton 246 

John Wesley and the Dyspeptic Clergyman 247 

John Wesley and the Archbishop of Canterbury. . . < 248 

John Wesley and Father O'Leary 249 

John Wesley and the Persecuting Papist 250 

John Wesley and the Roman Catholic Woman 250 

John Wesley and Joseph Lee. 251 

John Wesley and the " Lending Stock" 252 

John Wesley and the Wonderful Prophecy 253 

John Wesley and the Ship upon a Rock 254 

John Wesley and the Providential Shower 255 

John Wesley and John Downes 255 

John Wesley and Dictators 256 

John Wesley and Croakers 257 

John Wesley and Robert Young 257 

John Wesley and the Son of his Friend , 258 

John Wesley and George Osborn 261 

12 Contents. 


John Wesley's Condescension 261 

John Wesley and the Landscape 262 

John Wesley and the Tea Party 263 

John Wesley and the Gayer Family 264 

John Wesley and John Allen 266 

John Wesley and the Deed of Declaration 268 

John Wesley and his Successor 270 

John Wesley and Apostolical Succession 272 

John Wesley and Joseph Bradford 273 

John Wesley, Adam Clarke, and the Horse 276 

John Wesley and the Land's End 277 

John Wesley and the Gout 278 

John Wesley and Doctor Beattie 279 

John Wesley and Wrestling Jacob 279 

John Wesley and Kobert Hopkins 280 

John Wesley and the Befractory Trustees 283 

John Wesley and the Economical Man 286 

John Wesley and Joseph Entwisle 288 

John Wesley and the Poet Crabbe 290 

John Wesley and Jonathan Crowther 296 

John Wesley and William Jay 297 

John Wesley and the Courageous Woman 303 

John Wesley at City Boad Chapel 317 

Backslider, the 208 

Blustering Man, the 167 

Cathedral, the 196 

Civil Authorities at Bristol, the 170 

Comedians, the , 174 

Conscience and Interest , 233 

Contrast between John and Charles Wesley 309 

Disputant, the 164 

Drunkard and his Wife, the 206 

Enraged Man, the 207 

Entvvisle and the Stumbling Horse 289 

Fault-finder, the * 910 

Field Preaching 140 

Fletcher as Mediator 269 

Friendly Man, the -. 165 

Harmless Ditty, the 168 

Highwayman, the 175 

Honest Enthusiast, the 166 

How to Perpetuate Methodism 265 

Ingenious Man, the 207 

Ingenious Beproof 126 

Justice of the Peace, the 176 

Contents. 1 3 


Kingswood School 143 

Learned Man, the. 165 

Liberal Clergyman, the 181 

Lord of the Stable, the 203 

Mayor of Shaftesbury, the 169 

Mayor of Tiverton, the 163 

Oglethorpe, General, and the French Prince 94 

Origin of Class-meetings, the 110 

Parish Priest, the 169 

Preaching Three Times a Day 314 

Power of Habit 318 

Profane Officer, the 125 

Quaker's Testimony, the 191 

Relics -.. 317 

Reproachful Man, the , , 167 

Reputation of the Methodists, the 291 

Rich Banker, the 193 

Samuel's Poetical Epistle 83 

Sermon Hard to Understand, a 183 

Sharp Comment 133 

Sharp Retort 200 

Sir John Ganson 168 

Slanderer, the « 145 

Stennet, Doctor 176 

Sun-Dial, the 150 

Surreptitious Letter, the , 141 

Thomas Walsh 171 

Tomb-stone Sermon, the 129 

Unwise Reprovers, the 198 

Virtue of Silence, the 166 

Walsh's Scholarship 171 

Walsh's Gravity and Wesley's Cheerfulness 172 

Washington and Wesley 119 

Watch-Nights 150 

Wesley and Adam Clarke 319 

Wesley and Dr. Dodd. . s 211 

Wesley and Elijah Bush 242 

Wesley and Evil Report and Good Report 300 

Wesley and Garrick 294 

Wesley and Henry Moore 305 

Wesley and his Power 209 

Wesley and his Youthful Escort 301 

Wesley and Horace Walpole 282 

Wesley and Howard 287 

Wesley and Irish Methodism 310 

14 Contents. 


Wesley and Itinerancy 282 

Wesley and John Brown 293 

Wesley and John Standering 313 

Wesley and Joseph Burgess 293 

Wesley and Low Spirits 241 

Wesley and Eankin 285 

Wesley and Kobert Walpole 281 

Wesley and Shakspeare 318 

Wesley and the Belligerent Boys 244 

Wesley and the Burglars 306 

Wesley and the Despairing Man 284 

Wesley and the Disappointed Lady 291 

Wesley and the Drunken Papist 292 

Wesley and the Itinerancy 300 

Wesley and the Hasty Minister 299 

Wesley and the Offended Lady 298 

Wesley and the Silver Medal 295 

Wesley and the Superannuated Organ 303 

Wesley and the Zealous Papist 292 

Wesley, Boardxnan, and Pilmoor 118 

Wesley, Bradburn, and Olivers 242 

Wesley, Bradford, and the Angel 275 

Wesley, Bradford, and the Chaise 274 

Wesley Leading Class 310 

Wesley, Moore, and the Communion 306 

Wesley on u the Sessions " 296 

Wesley, Pool, and Whitefield 141 

Wesley Preventing a Eiot , 197 

Wesley Taking the Collection 315 

Wesleys, the, Oglethorpe, and the Officers 93 

Wesley, the Young Woman, and the Snow-storm 222 

Wesley's Advice to Samuel Bradburn 341 

Wesley's Countenance 304 

Wesley's Farewell to Ireland 312 

Wesley's Pinal Interview with Thomas Walsh 173 

Wesley's First Sermon in the Fields. 149 

Wesley's Investment. 151 

Wesley's Laconic Advice to Henry Moore 307 

Wesley's Last Sermon in Ireland 311 

Wesley's Last Years 316 

Wesley's Notes on the New Testament 195 

Wesley's Prayer for Fletcher 271 

Wesley's "Primitive Physic" 191 

Wesley's Eough Journey. 210 

Wesley's Sermon on Slavery 280 

Contents. 1 5 


Wesley's "Wise Counsel on Marriage 243 

Whitefield and the Uncharitable Minister 143 

Whitefield' s Mission to America 139 

Worldly Wisdom 299 

Zinzendorf, Count 177 



Eev. Charles Wesley, A.M 323 

Charles Wesley and Lord Mansfield 325 

Charles Wesley . and his Diary 326 

Charles Wesley and his Uncle « 327 

Charles Wesley and George Whitefield 328 

Charles Wesley and the Narrow Escape 330 

Charles Wesley and the Drunken Captain 330 

Charles Wesley and William Law 333 

Charles Wesley and Peter Boehler 334 

Charles Wesley and Mrs. Turner 336 

Charles Wesley and the Unjust Man 337 

Charles Wesley and the Presentment 338 

Charles Wesley and the Magistrate at Kingswood 338 

Charles Wesley and the xlrchbishop of Canterbury 340 

Charles Wesley and the Highwayman 341 

Charles Y\ r esley's Servant and the Eobbers 341 

Charles Wesley and the Mob , . 342 

Charles Wesley and the "Fanatic , 342 

Charles Wesley and Primate Eobinson 343 

Charles Wesley Indicted 344 

Charles Wesley accused of Treason 347 

Charles Wesley and the Officer 348 

Charles Wesley and the African Princes 350 

Charles Wesley and the Maniac 351 

Charles and Mrs. John Wesley 352 

Charles Wesley and the Passionate Lady 352 

Charles W T esley and the Tempting Offers 353 

Charles Wesley and Vincent Perronet 354 

Charles Wesley and the Blasphemer , 355 

Charles Wesley and Harmless Diversions 356 

Charles Wesley and Lord Ferrers 356 

Charles Wesley and the Thunder-storm 360 

Charles Wesley and Young's Night Thoughts 362 

1 6 Contents. 


Charles Wesley and Virgil 364 

Charles "Wesley and the Colliers 365 

Charles Wesley at the Land's End 366 

Charles Wesley and the Stone-quarry Men 367 

Charles Wesley and the Sailors 368 

Charles Wesley and the Theatrical Woman 369 

Charles Wesley and Handel 370 

Charles Wesley and James Hervey 371 

Charles Wesley and Lady Huntingdon 373 

Charles Wesley and the Eich Banker 374 

Charles Wesley and Dr. Thomas Coke 375 

Charles Wesley and Adam Clarke 376 

Charles Wesley and the Young Preacher 377 

Charles Wesley and Wilberforce 377 

Charles Wesley and " The Man of Fashion" 378 

Charles Wesley and the Music Seller 379 

Charles Wesley and his Sister, Mrs. Wright 381 

Charles Wesley and his Sister Martha 382 

Charles Wesley and his Sister Kezziah 382 

Charles Wesley and his Daughter Sarah 383 

Charles Wesley, his Daughter, and the Prisoners 384 

Charles Wesley's Last Hymn 386 

Charles and his Brother's Eequest 361 

Charles and John Wesley on Eeputation 380 

Habits in Old Age 362 

Ludicrous Scene 328 

Mrs. Charles Wesley's Singing 385 

Perilous Voyage, the 359 

Persecutor, the 364 

Poetical Eccentricities 361 

Eare Volume, a 379 

Sermon Completed, a 350 

Slanderer, the 347 

Wellesleys, the . . . 325 


Charles Wesley, Jun., and King George III 387 

Charles Wesley, Jun., and King George IV 388 

Charles Wesley, Jun., and his Sister Sarah 390 

Charles Wesley, Jun., and his Uncle John 391 

Bishop's Rebuke, the 339 



In conversation Samuel Wesley was grave yet instructive, 
Jvely, and full of anecdote, and this talent the late Mr. John 
Wesley possessed in a high degree. — Hexky Mooee. 





" "What is there like a father to a son ? 
A father, quick in love, wakeful in care, 
Tenacious of his trust, proof in experience, 
Severe in honor, perfect in example, 
Stamped with humility ! " 

Samuel Wesley, the father of John and Charles 
Wesley, was born in 1662, was Rector of Epworth 
thirty-nine years, and died in April, 1735. Much 
has been written concerning the virtues of his wife, 
Susanna Wesley, while her excellent husband has 
been thrown into the shade. He was a man of 
fine talents, a ripe scholar, an untiring student, a 
poet of rare excellence, an author of solid merit, a 
superior preacher, and a faithful Pastor. 

Mr. Wesley was a man of small stature, with a 
bright eye, and a radiant countenance. A number 
of his early schoolfellows rose to distinction, among 
others Daniel Defoe, author of Robinson Crusoe. 
John Bunyan and Richard Baxter he heard preach, 
and greatly admired them. He was early ac- 


Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

quainted with some of the greatest wits in En- 
gland, and in native gifts he was not a whit be- 
hind them. Alexander Pope and Dean Swift he 
knew very well, and, like them, he excelled in 
conversational powers and in anecdote, which he 
made subservient to the cause of truth, and useful 
to silence gainsayers. 

Well may the poet Cowper inquire, 

" Is sparkling wit the world's exclusive right ? 

The fixed fee-simple of the vain and light ? 

Can hopes of heaven, bright prospects of an hour, 

That comes to waft us out of sorrow's power, 

Obscure or quench a faculty that finds 

Its happiest soil in the serenest minds ? 

Religion curbs, indeed, its wanton play, 

And brings the trifler under vigorous sway, 

But gives it usefulness unknown before, 

And purifying, makes it shine the more. 

A Christian's wit is inoffensive light ; 

A beam that aids, but never grieves, the sight." 

His sons, Samuel, John, and Charles, and his 
gifted daughters, while deeply indebted to their 
mother, inherited their wit and poetic talent from 
their father. Heroically he struggled with poverty 
all his days. Mr. Wesley took unwearied pains in 
the education of his sons. His letters to them 
while at the University at Oxford show a large 
heart and noble soul, and abound in wise cautions 
and suggestions, which had a beneficial effect upon 
them. Had he not been the father of the Wesleys, 
such were his talents and works he could not be 
forgotten ; but he will be remembered chiefly as 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 


the father of the greatest evangelist of modern 
times, and of the best sacred poet since the min- . 
strel prophet David. 


Samuel Wesley's First Parsonage. 

Samuel Wesley in 1691 was appointed Rector 
of the parish of South Ornisby, with a salary of 
fifty pounds a year and a parsonage. It was a 
very mean and uncomfortable abode, but in it he 
and his youthful wife resided for years, and there 
five of their children were born, and most of his 
valuable books were written. Mr. "Wesley de- 
scribes it in cheerful verse, as follows : 

"In a mean cot, composed of reeds and clay. 
Wasting in sighs th' uncomfortable day ; 
Near where the inhospitable Humber roars, 
Devouring by degrees the neighboring shores, 
Let earth go where it will I'll not repine, 
Nor can unhappy be, while heaven is mine.' ' 

Samuel Wesley's Description of his Wife. 

It has been supposed that Samuel Wesley was 
a sour and disagreeable husband. On the con- 
trary, he was one of the kindest of husbands, one 
of the best of fathers. His granddaughter, Miss 
Sarah Wesley, said "his children idolized his 


Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

memory." We shall see the high regard his wife 
had for him, and this feeling he reciprocated. A 
few years after their marriage, in his "Life of 
Christ,*' he painted her portrait thus : 

"She graced my humble roof, and blest' my life; 

Blest me by a far greater name than wife ; 

Yet still I bore an undisputed sway, 

Nor was't her task, but pleasure, to obey. 

Scarce thought, much less could act, what I denied ; 

In our lone house there was no room for pride. • 

Nor need I e'er direct what still was right ; 

She studied my convenience and delight ; 

Nor did I for her care ungrateful prove, 

But only used my power to show my love. 

Whate'er she asked I gave, without reproach or grudge, 

For still she reason asked, and I was judge. 

All my commands, requests at her fair hands, 

And her requests, to me were all commands. 

To others' thresholds rarely she'd incline, 

Her house her pleasure was, and she was mine. 

Rarely abroad, or never but with me, 

Or when by pity called, or charity." 

Samuel Wesley and the Profane Officer. 

Soon after Mr. Wesley left the University he 
was engaged with John Dunton and Richard 
Sault in publishing the Athenian Gazette. They 
used to meet to talk over the affairs of their new 
publication at Smithy Coffee House, London. At 
one of these meetings an incident occurred that 
strikingly illustrates the character of Samuel Wes- 
ley. At the other end of the room where Wesley 
and his two friends were met for business there 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


were a number of gentlemen, including an officer 
of the Guards, who was awfully profane. Mr. 
Wesley was shocked at his language, and asked 
the waiter to bring him a glass of water. It was 
brought. In a loud tone of voice he said, " Carry 
it to that gentleman in the red coat, and desire 
him to wash his mouth after his oaths." No 
sooner had he uttered these words than the officer 
was on his feet to chastise the young clergyman. 
His friends, who had better manners and judgment 
than himself, laid hold of him, and said, " Nay, 
Colonel, you gave the first offense; you know it is 
an affront to swear in the presence of a clergy- 
man." Years rolled on. Mr. Wesley was in Lon- 
don attending Convocation. As he was going 
through St. James's Park a gentleman accosted 
him, and asked if he knew him. Mr. Wesley said 
he did not. The gentleman brought to his mind 
the scene at Smith's Coffee House, when Mr. Wes- 
ley gave him such a terrible reproof for his pro- 
fanity, and added, " Since then, sir, I thank God, I 
have feared an oath and every thing that is offen- 
sive to the divine Majesty. I rejoice at seeing 
you, and cannot refrain from expressing my grati- 
tude to you and to God that we ever met." 

Samuel Wesley and Queen Mary. 

Mr. Wesley was an enthusiastic admirer of Queen 
Mary. He dedicated to her his "Life of Christ." 
She is said to have read it with great pleasure. 

24 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

The Queen gave him the living of Epworth, which 
he never asked for nor expected. He says, "It 
was proffered and given without my having ever 
solicited any person, and without my ever expect- 
ing or thinking of such a favor." He adds, " The 
favors which our blessed Queen was pleased to be- 
stow on me, after she had read my book, were as 
far beyond my expectation as my desert. " 

In 1694 this excellent Queen died, and was deeply 
lamented. Mr. Wesley published a poem on her 
death, which was highly eulogistic. The following 
is a specimen : 

u Would virtue take a shape, she'd choose to appear, 
And think, and speak, and dress, and live, like her. 
Zeal without heat, devotion without pride, 
Work without noise, did all her hours divide ; 
Wit without trifling, prudence without guile, 
Pure faith, which no false reasoning could spoil, 
With her, secure and blest our happy isle." 

This, and some other of his early poetry, made 
him the butt of the ridicule of the wits, and John 
Dunton wrote : 

"Poor, harmless Wesley! let him write again; 

Be pitied in his old heroic strain; 

Let him in reams proclaim himself a dunce, 

And break a dozen stationers at once." 

Samuel Wesley, Jr., retorted upon Dunton in 
his poem, " Xeck or jSTothing," when he puts the 
following into Dunton' s mouth : 

' ; Have I alone obliged the press 
With fifteen hundred treatises, 
Printers and stationers undone — 
A plagiary in every one ? " 

Ajiecdotes of the Wesley s. 


Samuel Wesley's Life of Christ. 

His "Heroic Poem,*' containing nine thousand 
lines, was published in 1693. Concerning its merits 
there were various opinions. Dunton, his brother- 
in-law, describes it as " intolerably dull." Samuel 
Badcock says. " It excited the ridicule of the wits.' 5 
This same poem was splendidly eulogized by the 
Poet-laureate, Xaham Tate, who was, to be sure, no 
great judge. He regards Samuel "Wesley as " com- 
pleting the task which Milton left unfinished; and 
represents him as a great bard emerging from soli- 
tude, fired with rapture, and charmingly unfolding 
the great themes of angelic hymns, and weaving 
wit and piety together. His spotless muse brings 
fresh laurels from Parnassus and plants them on 
Zion." * Dr. Coke admired and republished it one 
hundred years after the first edition was published. 
TTesley himself thus speaks of the first edition: 
"The cuts are good; the notes pretty good; the 
verses so-so." 

Samuel Palmer rudely attacked it. Mr. "Wesley 
replied, " I know my poem is faulty ; but whether 
it be in itself so absolutely contemptible as 3Ir. 
Palmer represents it, I desire may be left to more 
impartial judges. If he will be so kind as to let 
me know the particular faults of that poem I shall 
own myself highly obliged to him, and will take 
care to correct them. I am sensible there are too 
many incorrect lines in it, which had better have been 
left out ; but I remember, too, some lines struck 
* See Trerman's " Life of Samuel Wesley," p. 160. 

26 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

out which, perhaps, had been as well left in. I care 
not if I oblige him with two or three of them which 
were in the original, but were not printed, and 
leave him to guess the reason : 

1 Or murmuring deep, with harsh incondite tone, 
"With eyes reversed, and many a brutal groan ; 
We are the favor'd few, the elect alone.' " 

John Wesley said, " In my father's poem on 
the 4 Life of Christ ' there are many excellent lines, 
but they must be taken in connection with the 
rest. It would not be at all proper to print them 

Samuel Wesley, Jr., had a peculiar affection for 
his father, and was a great admirer of his genius, 
and he speaks thus of his Life of Christ : 

" Whate'er his strains, still glorious was his end : 
Faith to assert and virtue to defend. 
He sung how God his Saviour deigned to expire 
With Yida's piety, though not his fire." 

Samuel Wesley and his Persecutors. 

Mr. Wesley preached at Epworth with great plain- 
ness of speech. His politics also gave greatoffense, 
and much persecution followed. His opponents 
injured his cattle, burned his house to the ground, 
and had him imprisoned for debt in Lincoln Castle. 
Mr. Wesley was very poor, and had only ten shil- 
lings when he went to prison, and his wife had less. 
She sent him her gold rings to relieve him, but he 
returned them. His noble soul was free even in 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


the prison. We cannot but admire him as he bows 
his head to the storm. While in bonds he wrote 
a characteristic letter to the Archbishop of York, 
in which he says, " I am come to the haven where 
I have long expected to be ; but I do not despair 
of doing good here ; it may be, more in this new 
parish than in my old one. A jail is a paradise in 
comparison of the life I led before I came hither. 
. . . I hope to rise again, as I have always done 
when at the lowest, and I think I could not be 
much lower now. ... I am getting acquainted 
with my brother jail-birds as fast as I can, and 
I shall write to London next post to the Society 
for Propagating Christian Knowledge, who, I hope, 
will send some books to distribute among them." 
He volunteered to be chaplain to the prisoners, 
and was very useful to them. Daily he read pray- 
ers, and on Sabbath preached to them the perfect 
law of liberty. After remaining three months in 
Lincoln Castle he was released. 

Samuel Wesley and Archbishop Sharpe. 

Archbishop Sharpe was a generous man, and a 
great friend of Samuel Wesley. He w^as the grand- 
father of Granville Sharpe, of world-wide fame for 
his efforts for the enslaved. The Archbishop had 
great influence with King William, and it was well 
for Samuel Wesley to have such a friend. He 
rendered him great assistance in his poverty by 
giving and raising money for him. 


Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

Mr. Wesley appreciated Ms kindness, and in a 
letter to the Archbishop shows his heart was over- 
flowing with gratitude : " When I received your 
Grace's first letter I thanked God upon my knees 
for it, and have done the same, I believe, twenty 
times since, as often as I have read it ; and more 
than once for the other, which I received yesterday." 
Again : "I am pretty confident your Grace neither 
reflects on nor imagines how much you have done 
for me, nor what sums I have received by your 
lordship's bounty and favor, without which I had 
been ere this moldy in a jail, and sunk a thousand 
fathom's below nothing." He names over the sums 
he had received through the Archbishop, one hun- 
dred and eighty-four pounds, in which was included 
forty-three pounds from Queen Anne. " A fright- 
ful sum," he adds ; "but it is beyond thanks, and 
I must never expect to perform that as I ought till 
in another world, where, if I get first into the har- 
bor, I hope none will go before me in welcoming 
your lordship into everlasting habitations, where * 
you will be no more tried with my follies, nor con- 
cerned with my misfortunes." 

Again he wrote a characteristic letter, dated 
May 18, 1701 : 

" My Lokd : . . . Last night my wife brought 
me a few children. There are but two yet, a boy 
and a girl, and I think they are all at present. 
We have had four in two years and a day, three of 
which are living. Never came any thing more 
like a gift from heaven than what the Countess of 
Northampton sent by your lordship's charitable 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 


offices. Wednesday evening my wife and I joined 
stocks, which came to but six shillings, to send for 
coals. Thursday morning I received the ten pounds, 
and at night my wife was delivered. Glory to God 
for his unspeakable goodness ! " 

Archbishop Sharpe and the Highwayman. 

To illustrate the character of the Archbishop, 
Samuel Wesley's faithful friend in adversity, in 
prison and in poverty, we insert the following 
anecdote, which John Wesley published in the 
Arminian Magazine in 1785, p. 157. It was his 
lordship's custom to have a saddle-horse attend his 
carriage, that in case of fatigue from sitting he 
might take the refreshment of a ride. As he was 
thus going to his episcopal residence, and had gone 
a mile or two before the carriage, a decent, well- 
looking young man came up to him, and with a 
trembling hand and faltering tongue presented a 
pistol to his lordship's breast, demanding his 
money. The Archbishop with composure turned 
about, and looking steadfastly at him, desired he 
would remove that dangerous weapon and tell him 
fairly his condition. " Sir ! sir ! " with great agita- 
tion cried the youth, " no words — 'tis not a time — 
your money instantly ! " " Hear me, young man," 
said the Archbishop, " and come on with me. Tou 
see I am a very old man, and my life is of very little 
consequence. Tour's seems far otherwise. I am 
named Sharpe, and am Archbishop of Tork ; my 


Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

carriage and servants are behind. Tell me what 
money you want, and who yon are, and I'll not 
injure you, but prove a friend. Here, take this ; 
and now tell me how much you want to make you 
independent of so destructive a business as you 
are now engaged in." " O, sir ! " replied the man, 
"I detest the business as much as you. I am — 
"but — at home there are creditors who will not stay. 
Fifty pounds, my lord, indeed would do what no 
tongue besides my own can tell!" "Well, sir, 
I take it on your word ; and, upon my honor, if you 

will in a day or two call on me at , what I have 

now given shall be made up to that sum." The 
highwayman looked at him, was silent, and went 
off; and at the time appointed actually waited on 
the Archbishop, and assured his lordship his words 
had left impressions which nothing could ever 
efface. Nothing more of him transpired for a year 
and a half, or more, when one morning a person 
knocked at his Grace's gate, and with peculiar 
earnestness desired to see him. The Bishop ordered 
the stranger to be brought in ; he entered the room 
where his lordship was, and had scarce advanced 
a few steps before his countenance changed, his 
knees tottered, and he sunk almost breathless on 
the floor. On recovering he requested of his 
lordship for a private audience. The apartment 
being cleared, " My Lord," said he, " you cannot 
have forgotten the circumstances at such a time 
and place ; gratitude will never suffer them to be 
effaced from my mind. In me, my lord, you now 
behold that once most wretched of mankind, but 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 31 

now, by your inexpressible humanity, rendered 
equal, perhaps superior, to millions. O, my lord, 
(tears for awhile preventing his utterance,) 'tis 
you, 'tis you that have saved me, body and soul ! 
'Tis you that have saved a dear and much-loved 
wife, and a little brood of children dearer than my 
life ! Here is that fifty pounds ; but never shall 
I find language to testify what I feel. Your God 
is your witness, your deed itself your glory, and 
may heaven and all its blessings be your present 
and everlasting reward ! I was the youngest son of 
a wealthy man ; your lordship knew him I am sure. 

His name was . My marriage alienated his 

affection, and my brother withdrew his love, and 
left me to sorrow and penury. A month since my 
brother died a bachelor and intestate. What was 
his is become mine; and by your astonishing 
goodness I am now at once the most penitent, the 
most grateful, and happiest of my species." 

Samuel Wesley and the Chief Man of the Town. 

The parsonage at Epworth was burned Febru- 
ary 9, 1709. There can be no doubt that it was 
set on fire by his enemies. This was the second 
time it was on fire. While his house was burning 
the last time, and Mr. Wesley was running about 
the street inquiring for his wife and children, he 
met the chief man and chief constable of the town 
going from the house, not toward it. Wesley said 
to him, " God's will be done." He gruffly in- 


Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

quired, " Will you never be done with your tricks ? 
You fired your house Once before. Did you not 
get money enough by it then, that you have to do 
it again ? " Mr. Wesley replied, " God forgive 
you ! I find you are chief man still." 

Samuel Wesley and the Rescued Hymn. 

When the parsonage was burned most of Mr. 
Wesley's manuscripts were destroyed, but a few 
small mementoes of the terrible calamity were pre- 
served, among others a hymn with music adapted. 
It is the only entire hymn written by the father of 
the Wesleys that finds a place in the Methodist 
hymn book. 

Behold the Saviour of mankind 

Nailed to the shameful tree ; 
How vast the love that him inclined 

To bleed and die for thee ! 

Hark ! how he groans, while nature shakes, 
And earth's strong pillars bend : 

The temple's vail in sunder breaks, 
The solid marbles rend ! 

Samuel Wesley and his Advisers. 

In consequence of the bitter persecution he en- 
dured Mr. Wesley was advised to leave Epworth. 
He was made of such material as martyrs are 
made of. " God had not given him the spirit of 
fear, but of courage and of a sound mind." He 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 


was ready to say with ISTeheniiah, " Shall such a 
man as I flee ? " With all the spirit of unbending 
heroism he refused, saying, " 'Tis like a coward to 
desert my post because the enemy fires thick upon 
me. They have only wounded me yet, and I be- 
lieve cannot kill me." How much like his heroic 
sons in after years, when John wrote 

Shall I, for fear of feeble inau, 
The Spirit's course in me restrain ? 
Or, undismayed in deed and word, 
Be a true witness of my Lord ? 

Awed by a mortal's frown, shall I 
Conceal the word of God most high ? 
How then before thee shall I dare 
To stand, or how thine anger bear ? 

Shall I, to soothe the unholy throng, 
Soften thy truth, or smooth my tongue, 
To gain earth's gilded toys, or flee 
The cross endured, my Lord, by thee ? 

What then is he whose scorn I dread? 
Whose wrath or hate makes me afraid ? 
A man ! an heir of death ! a slave 
To sin ! a bubble on the wave ! 

Samuel Wesley and the Dishonest Farmer. 

At Epw r orth Mr. Wesley was supported by 
tithes paid by his parishioners. One day he went 
into his field where the corn tithes were laid out. 
He found a dishonest farmer very deliberately at 
work with a pair of shears cutting off the ears of 


Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

corn and putting them in a bag. Mr. Wesley said 
not a word, but took him by the arm and marched 
him into the town. When they were in the mar- 
ket-place he seized the bag, and, turning it inside 
out before the people, told them what the farmer 
had been doing. He then left him with his ill- 
gotten gain to the judgment of his neighbors, and 
walked quietly home. 

Samuel Wesley and his Dying Parishioner. 

Samuel Wesley visited one of his parishioners as 
he was upon his dying bed — a man who had never 
missed going to church in forty years. " Thomas, 
where do you think your soul will go ? " " Soul ! 
soul ! " said Thomas. " Yes, sir," said Mr. Wesley, 
" do you not know what your soul is ? " " Aye, 
surely," said Thomas ; " why, it is a little bone in 
the back that lives longer than the body." "So 
much," says John Wesley, who related it on the 
authority of Dr. Lupton, who had it from his fa-, 
ther, " had Thomas learned from hearing sermons, 
and exceedingly good sermons, for forty years.* " 

Samuel Wesley and the Mysterious Noises at 

These noises made a great noise in the world. 
Mrs. Wesley first heard them in her bedroom. 
There was a clattering of the windows and doors, 

* British Minutes for 1744 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


and several distinct knocks three by three. Nancy 
Marshall, the maid-servant, heard in the dining- 
room something that sounded like the groans of a 
dying man. The young ladies of the family were 
greatly disturbed by these strange doings. Mrs. 
Wesley then informed her husband of the circum- 
stances, and intimated her belief of their super- 
natural character. He was displeased, and said, 
" Sukey, I am ashamed of you. These boys and 
girls frighten one another, but you are a woman 
of sense, and should know better. Let me hear of 
it no more.' 5 This answer displeased the girls, and 
they wished their father might hear the noises him- 
self. Their wish was soon gratified. The very 
next night he was roused from his slumbers by 
nine loud and distinct knocks. Raps and thumps 
were heard all over the house, except in the study. 

Mr. Wesley asked what it was, and why it dis- 
turbed innocent children, and did not come to him 
in his study. The next night the noises were as 
boisterous as ever. Mr. Wesley pulled out a pis- 
tol, and was about to fire at the place whence the 
sounds proceeded, when the Rev. Mr. Hoole caught 
him by the arm, and said, " Sir, if this is something 
preternatural you cannot hurt it by filing your 
pistol, but you may give it power to hurt you." 

There had been no disturbance in the study up 
to this time. The next evening, as Mr. Wesley 
opened the door of the study, it was thrust back 
with such violence as well-nigh threw him down, 
and then there was a knocking first on one side, 
then the other. 


Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

He went into an adjoining room, where was his 
daughter Anne, and the noises still continued. He 
said to her, " Spirits love darkness ; put out the 
candle, and perhaps it will speak." 

She did so, and he asked the mysterious person- 
age to speak. No answer came, but the knocking 
continued. He then said, " Nancy, two Christians 
are an overmatch for the devil ; go down stairs, 
and it may be when I am left alone it will have 
courage enough to speak." He then thought 
something might have happened to his son Sam- 
uel, and he said, " If thou art the spirit of my son 
Samuel, I pray thee knock three knocks, and no 
more." No answer, and all was quiet for the night. 

Nothing more was heard for about a month, 
when, while at family prayer, the usual knocks were 
heard when he prayed for King George, and a 
thundering thump at the amen. Noises continued, 
latches were uplifted, doors flew open, the house 
shook from top to bottom, the Rector's trencher 
danced upon the table at a Sunday dinner, beds 
were uplifted, etc. 

Several clergymen and others advised Mr. Wes- 
ley to leave the old parsonage. His answer was, 
" No ; let the devil flee from me, I will not flee 
from him" 

Such is a mere outline of the " strange doings " 
at Epworth rectory. Many have tried to account 
for these extraordinary noises. Some have said it 
was rats, others the tricks of the servants — the 
house was haunted — witchcraft — catalepsy — dia- 
bolical influences — departed spirits, etc. 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


Mrs. Wesley wrote to her son Samuel to have 
him explain the mysterious movements. He 
wrote thus: "My mother sends to me to know 
my thoughts of it, and I cannot think at all of any 
interpretation. Wit, I fancy, might find many, but 
wisdom none." 

Samuel Wesley and his Comical Clerk, 

The following anecdote was related by John 
Wesley : 

Samuel Wesley had a clerk, a well-meaning, 
honest, but weak and vain man. He believed the 
Rector, his master, to be the greatest man in the 
parish, if not in the country, and that he himself 
stood next to him in worth and importance. He 
had the privilege of wearing Mr. Wesley's cast-off 
clothes and wigs, for the latter of which his head 
was far too small, and the figure he cut in it was 
ludicrously grotesque. One morning, before church 
time, Mr. Wesley said, M John, I shall preach on a 
particular subject to-day, and shall choose my 
own psalm, of which I shall give out the first line, 
and you shall proceed as usual." 

John was pleased, and the service went forward 
as usual till they came to the singing, when Mr. 
Wesley gave out the following line : 

" Like to an owl in ivy bush." 

This was sung, and the following line. John, 
peeping out of the large canonical wig in which 

38 Anecdotes of the Wesley s % 

his head was half lost, gave out with an audible 
voice, and an appropriate connecting twang 

'' That rueful thiug am I." 

The whole congregation saw and felt the simili- 
tude, and could not refrain from laughter. 

This clerk was the same man who, when King 
William returned to London after some of his ex- 
peditions, gave out in Epworth Church, "Let us 
sing to the praise and glory of God a hymn of my 
own composing 

t: King William has come home, come home ; 

King William home is come ; 
Therefore together let us sing 

The hymn that is called Te D'um." 

Samuel Wesley and the Miser. 

M Should a broad stream of golden sands 

Through all his meadows roll, 
He's but a wretch, with all his lands, 

That wears a narrow soul." 

We have seen that Mr. Wesley was distinguished 
for vivacity. His wit was bright, sparkling, always 
at hand, never far-fetched. The following will 
illustrate this : 

A miser near Epworth, who had always lived in 
a little world by himself, who had never enter- 
tained any company, concluded, to the astonish- 
ment of those who knew him, to make a feast, and 
invited Mr. Wesley and a number of others to 
partake of it. 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


After dinner his host requested Mr. Wesley to 
return thanks, which he did in the following lan- 
guage, which not only showed his humor, but his 
felicity at improvisation : 

"Behold a miracle! for 'tis no less 

Than eating manna in the wilderness ! 

Here some have starved where we have found relief, 

And seen the wonders of a chine of beef ; 

Here chimnies smoke which never smoked before, 

And we have dined where we shall dine no more." * 

The miser confirmed the closing line by imme- 
diately adding, " iVo, gentlemen, it is too expensive" 

Samuel Wesley and his Curate. 

Samuel Wesley had a curate named Inman. On 
one of Mr. Wesley's returns from the metropolis 
a complaint was urged against his Curate that 
he preached nothing to his congregation, except 
the duty of paying their debts and behaving well 
among their neighbors. The complainants added, 
" We think, sir, there is more in religion than this." 
Mr. Wesley replied, " There certainly is ; I will hear 
him myself." He accordingly sent for his Curate, 
and told him he wished him to preach the next 
Lord's day, observing, " You could prepare a ser- 
mon on any text that I shall give you?" He re- 

* Richard Watson says, : ' The design of this odd extempo- 
raneous effusion, we are bound to believe, was not to indulge 
in levity, but to convey a useful reproof." — Life of John Wesley, 
p. 281. 


Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

plied, "By all means." Then said Mr. Wesley, 
" Prepare a sermon on the text found in Heb. xi, 6 : 
1 Without faith it is impossible to please [God. 5 ] " 
When the time arrived Mr. Wesley read the 
prayers, and the Curate ascended the pulpit and 
read the text with the greatest solemnity, and thus 
began : " It must be confessed, friends, that faith is 
a most excellent virtue, and it produces other vir- 
tues also. In particular, it makes a man pay his 
debts as soon as he can." He went on in this way, 
enforcing the social duties, for about a quarter of 
an hour, and then concluded. So, said John Wes- 
ley,- "my father saw it was a lost case." 

Samuel Wesley reproved by his Son. 

Samuel Wesley loved the weed, and not only 
smoked tobacco, but indulged in snuff-taking. His 
son Samuel had a perfect abhorrence for tobacco 
in any form, he therefore aimed one of his keenest 
satires at his father's propensities. He thus speaks 
of the box : 

" The snuff-box first provokes our just disdain, 
That rival of the fan and of the cane. 
Your modern beaux to richest shrines intrust 
Their worthless stores of fashionable dust." 

And again, of snuff itself: 

" Strange is the power of snuff, whose pungent grains 
Can make fops speak, and furnish beaux with brains ; 
Nor care of cleanliness, nor love of dress, 
Can save their clothes from brick-dust nastiness. 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 


Some think the part too small of modish sand 
Which at a niggard pinch they can command ; 
Nor can their fingers for that task suffice, 
Their nose too greedy, not their hands too nice ; 
To such a height with these is fashion grown, 
They feed their nostrils with a spoon. 
One, and but one, degree is wanting yet 
To make our senseless luxury complete ; 
Some choice regale useless as snuff, and dear, 
To feed the mazy windings of the ear." 

At the request of his aunt, Miss Annesley, young 
Samuel wrote this withering satire, and afterward 
made a most graceful apology to his father for the 
liberty he had taken. 

Samuel Wesley and his son John. 

John was greatly indebted to his father, not 
only for supporting him at the University, but for 
excellent advice that had much to do with mold- 
ing his ministerial character. 

When John was at Oxford he was in great need 
of money. His father sent him some, and wrote 
this playful letter, full of characteristic humor, in 
January, 1724: "Since you have now for some 
time bit upon the bridle, I will take care hereafter 
to put a little honey upon it as often as I am able ; 
but then it shall be of my own mere motion, as the 
last five pounds was, for I will bear no rival in my 
kingdom." He concludes with, "Work and write 
while you can. You see Time has shaken me by 
the hand, and Death is but a little behind him. 


Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

My eyes and heart are now almost all I have left, 
and I bless God for them." Again he wrote, " I 
will write to the Bishop of Lincoln again. You 
shall not want a black coat as soon as I have any 

Samuel Wesley and John Dryden. 

Samuel Wesley was well acquainted with the 
English poets, and his u Epistle on Poetry" is no 
bad specimen of criticism. He names Spenser, with 
his " vast genius" and "noble thoughts ;" and Dry- 
den, with his u matchless skill," is highly praised. 
But he censures the great but unhappy man, and 
says, " Suppose the great poet and critic to stand 
before the judgment-seat, (even if he should find 
mercy,") he exclaims, 

" How will he wish that each unpolished line, 
That makes vice pleasing and damnation shine, 
Had been as dull as honest Quarles' or mine?" 

Samuel Wesley and his son Charles. 

There never was a more affectionate father than 
Samuel Wesley. His letters to Samuel, John, and 
Charles show this. They are like apples of gold 
in pictures of silver. They had much to do in 
forming the character of his sons. 

When Charles was twenty-one he began to take 
pupils at the University. His father wrote to him, 
and thus concluded his letter: "You are now 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


launched fairly, Charles ; hold up your head and 
swim like a man, and when you buff the wave be- 
neath you say to it much as another hero did, 

Carolura vehis, et Caroli fortunam.* 
But always keep your eye above the polar-star, 
and so God send you a good voyage through the 
troublesome sea of life!" Can we wonder that 
the children of Samuel Wesley almost idolized his 
memory ? 

Samuel Wesley and the Fellow of Lincoln. 

John Wesley was elected Fellow of Lincoln Col- 
lege, Oxford, the 17th of March, 1725. This de- 
lighted his venerable father, and four days after he 
sent him a short epistle, directed to "Dear Mr. 
Fellow Elect of Lincoln, — I have done more than 
I could for you. On waiting on Dr. Morley with 
this he will pay you twelve pounds. You are in- 
expressibly obliged to that generous man." 

Ten days after he writes, "What will be my 
own fate God knows before this summer be over. 
Wherever I am, my Jack is Fellow of Lincoln ! " 

Samuel Wesley on Ridicule. 

There were those in the University who ridiculed 
John Wesley. He wrote to his father concerning 
it. He replied in these brave words : " As to the 
* "Thou earnest Charles and Charles's fortune." 


Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

gentlemen candidates you write of, does any body 
think the devil is dead, or so much as asleep, or 
that he has no agents left? Surely virtue can 
afford to be laughed at. The Captain and Master 
endured something more for us before he entered 
into glory, and unless we track his steps in vain do 
we hope to share that glory with him." 

Samuel Wesley and fine Sermons. 

Samuel Wesley wrote an admirable letter to his 
Curate, which is a very able production, abounding 
in wise hints and suggestions. It was of great 
service to his son John in after years, and to the 
celebrated Whitefield. In the letter he says, "I 
sincerely hate what some people call a fine sermon, 
with just nothing in it, I cannot help thinking 
that it is very like our fashionable poetry, a polite 
nothing.' 5 

Samuel Wesley's Great Loss. 

There is a greater loss than a house, than books ; 
the loss of the right hand. What an era it is in 
any man's history when his right hand forgets its 
cunning, and falls useless at his side. 

Mr. "Wesley, struggling with poverty, bending 
under the weight of seventy years, was endeavor- 
ing to bring out his most elaborate work, namely, 
" Dissertations on the Book of Job," when his 
right hand was stricken with paralysis, and he 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 45 

could no longer hold a pen. But he never de- 
spaired in the darkest hour; he hoped on and 
hoped, ever. His language is perfectly character- 
istic of the man, and we wonder and still admire 
him as he says, " I have already lost one hand in 
the service, yet I thank God, non deficit altera* 
and I begin to put the other hand to school this 
day to learn to write in order to help its lame 

Samuel Wesley, his Sons and the Prisoners. 

Mr. Morgan urged John and Charles Wesley when 
they were at Oxford to join him in visiting the pris- 
oners and the poor. They wrote to their father for 
advice. His answer was worthy of the noble fa- 
ther of the Wesley's : " As to your designs and em- 
ployments, what can I say less of them than valde 
probo, f and that I have the highest reason to bless 
God that he has given me two sons together at 
Oxford to whom he has given grace and courage 
to turn the war against the world and the devil. 
Go, then, in God's name in the path in which your 
Saviour has directed you, and the path in which 
your father has walked before you, for when I was 
an under graduate at Oxford I visited those in the 
castle there, and reflect on it with great satisfac- 
tion to this day." Samuel Wesley thus encour- 
aged this first Methodist movement, and his noble 
sons following his advice, partook of his spirit, 
and walking in his steps, were through a long life 

* The other does not fail me. f I approve. 

4 6 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s< 

the prisoner's friends. To them of a truth could 
be said, " I was sick, and ye visited me ; in prison, 
and ye came unto me. 55 

Samuel Wesley's Dissertations on the Book of Job. 

This was his life-time work. He was employed 
upon it for a quarter of a century, and died before 
it was finished. It was completed by his son 
Samuel It was written in Latin, abounded with 
Hebrew and Greek quotations, and contained maps 
and other illustrations. It was published by sub- 
scription, and some of the most distinguished men 
in Great Britain were among the subscribers. 
The work is a literary curiosity. Samuel Bad- 
cock (no great friend of the Wesleys) says : " Mr. 
"Wesley's Dissertations were never held in any 
estimation by the learned." John Wesley briefly 
replied, " I doubt that. The book certainly con- 
tains immense learning, but of a kind I do not 

Bishop Warburton aims a sarcastic blow at it. 
He says, " Poor Job ! It was his eternal fate to 
be persecuted by his friends. His three comforters 
passed sentence of condemnation upon him, and he 
has been executing in effigy ever since. He was 
first bound to the stake by a long catena of Greek 
fathers, then tortured by Pineda, then strangled 
by Caryll, and afterward cut up by Wesley, and 
anatomized by Garnet. He was ordained, I think, 
by a late like that of Prometheus, to lie still upon 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 47 

his dunghill and have his brains sucked out by 
owls." * 

Dr. Adam Clarke says, " It is one of the most 
complete things of the kind I have ever met with, 
and must be invaluable to any man who may wish 
to read the Book of Job critically." 

Alexander Pope was a great admirer of Samuel 
Wesley and his work, and he thus wrote to Dean 
Swift : 

" This is a letter extraordinary, to do and say 
nothing but recommend to you a pious and good 
work, and for a good and honest man ; moreover, 
he is about seventy, and poor, which you might 
think included in the word c honest.' I shall think 
it a kindness done to myself if you can propagate 
Mr. Wesley's subscription for his Commentary on 
the Book of Job among your divines, (Bishops ex- 
cepted, of whom there is no hope,) and among 
such as are believers or readers of Scripture. 
Even the curious may find something to please 
them if they scorn to be edified. 

" It has been the labor of eight years f of this 
learned man's life. I call him what he is — a 
learned man — and I will engage you will approve 
his prose more than you formerly could his poetry. 
Lord Bolingbroke is a favorer of it, and allows 
you to do your best to serve an old tory and a suf- 
ferer for the Church of England, though you are a 
whig, as I am.* " 

Some one wrote to Samuel Wesley on the great 
delay of the work, and the uneasiness of some of 

* KicholTs Literary Anecdotes, f Many years longer, 

4 8 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

the subscribers. His reply was characteristic. He 
says, "He does not*wonder they think the Book 
of Job was long coming out, though it is common 
in books of this nature, especially when the author 
is absent from the press, and there are so many 
cuts and maps in it as must be in mine. Xow if 
Job's friends have need of patience at seeing him 
lie so long on the dunghill, or, what is much the 
same, the printing house, how much more has Job 
himself need of it, who is sensible his reputation 
suffers more and more by the delay of it, though 
if he himself had died, as he was lately in a fair 
way to it, having been as good as given over by 
three physicians, there would have been no doubt 
to any one who knows the character of my son at 
Westminster that every subscriber would have had 
his book." 

Samuel Wesley's Dying Predictions. 

The time came when the old Rector of Epworth 
must die. As he was expiring he laid his hand upon 
the head of Charles, and said, " Be steady, the Chris- 
tian faith will surely revive in this kingdom ; you 
will see it, though I shall not." To another of 
his children he said, " Do not be concerned at my 
death, God will then begin to manifest himself to 
my family." How patriarchal the scene ! We 
are reminded of the words of the dying Jacob, 
" Behold, I die, but God will be with you." How 
prophetic the language! How fulfilled to the 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 


very letter both in regard to his family and the 
nation ! To his widow, to his sons John and 
Charles, they were not only flames of love, "but 
flames of fire ; such manifestations as had not been 
seen since the days of Pentecost ! 

Seven years pass away, and his son John, ex- 
cluded the church edifice, stands upon his father's 
tombstone for eight successive nights and preaches 
to crowds at Epworth the glorious Gospel of the 
blessed God. A glorious revival followed. Re- 
viewing the mighty work J ohn Wesley exclaimed, 
" let none think his labor of love is lost because 
the fruit does not immediately appear. Near forty 
years did my father labor here, but he saw little 
fruit of his labor. I took some pains among this 
people too, and my strength also seemed spent in 
vain ; but now the fruit appeared. There was 
scarcely any in the town, on whom either my fa- 
ther or I had taken any pains formerly, but the 
seed sown so long since now sprang up, bringing 
forth repentance and remission of sins." * 

As further proof we quote from a sermon John 
Wesley preached at the laying of the corner-stone 
of City Road Chapel in 1777, from "What hath 
God wrought ? " In it he inquires, " But has there, 
indeed, been any extraordinary work of God 
wrought in England during this century?" After 
describing its origin he says, " This revival has 
spread to such a degree as neither we nor our 
fathers had known. How extensive has it been ! 
There is scarcely a considerable town in the king- 

* Wesley's Journal, vol. i, p. 25t. 


Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

dom where some have not been witnesses of it. It 
has spread to every age and sex, to most orders 
and degrees of men." Then he dwells upon its 
swiftness, as well as its extent, its depth, its purity. 
He concludes thus : " Such a work cannot easily be 
paralleled, in all these concurrent circumstances, 
by any thing that is found in the English annals 
since Christianity was first planted on this island." * 
Charles "Wesley heard his father say, God had 
shown him he should have all his nineteen children 
about him in heaven. Can we doubt that long 
ago the hopes of the father were realized ? 

4 'The ocean crossed, no wanderer lost, 
A family in heaven." 

* Wesley's Sermons, vol. i, p. 495. 



'Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest 
them all," 




" So woman, born to dignify retreat, 

Unknown to flourish, and unseen be great, 

To give domestic life its sweetest charm, 

With softness polish, and with virtue warm : 

Fearful of fame, unwilling to be known, 

Should seek but Heaven's applauses and her own ; 

Should dread no blame but that which crimes impart, 

The censures of a self-condemning heart." 

ScrsAirarA Wesley's name is a household word in 
the great Methodist family in both hemispheres. 
This illustrious woman occupies a prominent place 
among the mothers of the wise and good, She 
was the youngest daughter of Dr. Samuel Annes- 
ley, a dissenting minister of distinction ; was born 
in London ; married when she was nineteen ; and 
was six years younger than her husband, Samuel 
Wesley; and in twenty-one years had nineteen 
children. Mrs. Wesley was distinguished for un- 
common beauty, elegance of manners, strength of 
understanding, untiring industry, indomitable will, 
and a patience above all praise in training her 
children for God, and in educating them for im- 


Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

" Order is heaven's first law," and it was the 
first law of her dwelling. Every thing was done 
at the time. There were hours for study, hours 
for play, hours for eating, hours for sleeping, and 
they were all carefully observed. No jeweler ever 
took more pains to polish his jewels, no sculptor 
ever bestowed more labor in chiseling a block of 
marble into a life-like statue, no husbandman ever 
was more earnestly engaged in bringing to per- 
fection the plants in his nursery, than Mrs. Wesley 
to polish her jewels, to perfect her living statuary, 
and to develop the plants that grew in her domestic 
inclosure. She could say with the distinguished 
Roman matron Cornelia, " These are my jewels." 
No wonder " her sons were as plants grown up in 
their youth, and her daughters as corner-stones, 
polished after the similitude of a palace." She was 
a model daughter, wife, and mother. Her portrait 
is painted correctly by inspiration's pencil : " She 
openeth her mouth with wisdom, and in her 
tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well 
to the ways of her own household, and eateth not 
the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and 
call her blessed ; her husband also, and he praiseth 
her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but 
thou excellest them all." 

After years of usefulness and suffering she died 
in London, in John Wesley's dwelling-house be- 
hind the Old Foundry, which was a kind of cathe- 
dral in Methodism until the City Road Chapel was 

She died surrounded by her children, and her 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 


last fond look was cast on those she loved. Just 
before she lost the power of speech she said, " Chil- 
dren, as soon as I am released sing a song of praise 
to God." They knelt down, and John commended 
her departing spirit to Him who is the resurrec- 
tion and the life. ISTo sooner was the silver cord 
loosed and the golden bowl broken, and the spirit 
released from its earthly prison-house, than her 
children complied with her last request and sung a 
song of praise. 

" Hosarma to Jesus on high! 

Another has entered her rest : 
Another has 'scaped to the sky 

And lodged in Iramanuel's breast. 
The soul of our mother is gone 

To heighten the triumph above ; 
Exalted to Jesus's throne, 

And clasped in the arms of his love." 

Her death was as peaceful as her life had been 
pure, and occurred July 23, 1742. She was buried 
on Sunday afternoon at Bunhill Fields, a vast mul- 
titude attending the funeral. The services were 
conducted by her son John in the most solemn 
and impressive manner. Multitudes wept when 
Mr. Wesley said, " I commit the body of my mother 
to the grave." He then preached from, " I saw a 
great white throne," etc. He said, " It was one of 
the most solemn assemblies I ever saw, or expect 
to see on this side of eternity." 

She rests in classic ground, where John Bunyan, 
the immortal dreamer, and Isaac Watts, the sweet 
hymnist, and others of the mighty dead are sleep- 


Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

ing till the heavens be no more. On a plain tomb- 
stone were inscribed the following verses, written 
by her son Charles : 





In sure and steadfast hope to rise, 
And claim her mansion in the skies, 
A Christian here her flesh laid down, 
The cross exchanging for a crown. 
True daughter of affliction, she, 
Inured to. pain and misery, 
Mourn'd a loug night of griefs and fears, 
A legal night of seventy years. 
The Father then revealed his Son ; 
Him in the broken bread made known ; 
She knew and felt her sins forgiven, 
And found the earnest of her heaven. 
Meet for the fellowship above, 
She heard the call, " Arise, my love ! " 
" I come ! " her dying looks replied, 
And, lamb-like as her Lord, she died. 

A new stone has of late years been set up, bear- 
ing a different inscription. 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 



Susanna Wesley and her Sister. 

Judith Annesley was endowed with rare per- 
sonal charms. Sir Peter Lely, the painter of the 

beauties" of his age, painted her portrait, and 
placed it in his Gallery of Beauties. Yet one who 
knew her sister, said, " Beautiful as Miss Annesley 
appears, she was far from being as beautiful as 
Mrs. Wesley/ 5 "Favor is deceitful and beauty 
vain, but a woman that feareth the Lord she shall 
be praised.". 

John Dunton, the famous book-publisher, her 
brother-in-law, thus sketched her character : " She 
is a virgin of eminent piety. Good books (above 
all, the Book of books) are her sweetest entertain- 
ment ; and she finds more comfort there than others 
do in the wardrobe. In a word, she keeps a con- 
stant watch over the frame of her soul, and the 
course of her actions, by daily and strict examina- 
tion of both." 

A gentleman of splendid fortune paid his ad- 
dresses to this rare beauty, and the attachment 
was mutual ; but when she perceived that he was 
addicted to much wine she refused him her hand, 
and spent her life in single blessedness. She was as 
wise as beautiful. Would it not haA^e been wise in 
many ladies to have followed the example of Mrs. 
"Wesley's sister in this respect ? 


Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

Susanna Wesley and Socinianism. 

Susanna was a great reader, as well as a great 
thinker. In her own father's house she reasoned 
herself into the Socinian Creed. Samuel Wesley 
was the means of rescuing her from the fearful 
error. She acknowledges it " one of the greatest 
mercies of her life that she was married to a re- 
ligious orthodox man, and by him was first drawn 
olf from the Socinian heresy." Mrs. Wesley wrote 
an exposition of the Apostles' Creed, which she 
sent to her daughter Susanna. It is original and 
beautiful, showing decided ability in the discussion 
of the great theme. 

Susanna Wesley and Crying Children. 

Nothing is more disgreeable than crying chil- 
dren, and nothing more unnecessary. John Wes- 
ley said, "My mother had ten children, each of 
them had spirit enough, yet not one of them was 
ever heard to cry after it was a year old." 

Susanna Wesley and Family Government. 

Mrs. Wesley's first step was to conquer the will 
of the child early. This is the very point where 
many parents fail. She said, "This is the only 
strong and rational foundation of a religious educa- 
tion, without which, precept and example will be 
ineffectual. But where this is thoroughly done, 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 


then the child is capable of being governed by the 
reason of its parents till its own understanding 
come to maturity, and the principles of religion 
have taken root in the mind." A sapling is easily 
bent, but it is impossible to bend an old tree. 

Susanna Wesley and her eldest Child. 

Samuel Wesley was the first-born, and was named 
after his father. He did not attempt to speak until 
he was five years old, and it was feared he never 
would. To their surprise he began at once. He 
had a cat, of which he was very fond, and he would 
carry it about with him and play with it by the 
hour. One day "Sammy" was missing, and they 
searched every part of the house for him, but all in 
vain. Mrs. Wesley was greatly alarmed, and went 
through the house loudly calling him by name. 
At last she heard a voice from under the table, say- 
ing, " Here am I, mother." She looked under, and 
saw with surprise Sammy and his cat. From that 
time he spoke clearly and without hesitation. 

Susanna Wesley, her Husband, and Sammy. 

Mrs. Wesley was very thorough in every thing 
she undertook. One day she was teaching little 
Sammy a lesson, and he was very slow in learning 
it. So she drilled him over and over again until 
he perfectly understood it. While she was thus 
engaged Mr. Wesley said to her, " Why, my dear, 

6o Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

do you sit there teaching that dull child that lesson 
over for the twentieth time ? n Mrs. Wesley calmly 
replied, " Because the nineteenth is not enough." 

Samuel became a good scholar, a rare wit, a supe- 
rior poet, a genuine saint, a most dutiful son. He 
was a husband to the widow and a father to the 
fatherless children after the death of the Rector of 
Epworth. He was born in 1690, and died when he 
was forty-nine. Some of the finest poetry in our 
hymn book he composed. Among others the fol- 
lowing : 

' ; The morning flowers display their sweets. 

And gay their silken leaves unfold, 
As careless of the noontide heats, 

As fearless of the evening cold.' ; 

And the hymn commencing, 

" The Lord of Sabbath let ns praise 
In concert with the blest." 

Susanna Wesley and the Education of her Children. 

Mrs. Wesley was the instructress of the children 
in their earlier years. They were not sent to 
school, for she had a very bad opinion of the com- 
mon method of instructing children at the school 
at that time. They had their regular hours for 
school together, and she also taught them sepa- 
rately. She not only expanded their intellects, but 
aimed at improving their hearts. The old parson- 
age was, in fact, a theological seminary. She took 
each child by itself and gave instruction adapted 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 


to its capacity, and these private lessons made in- 
dellible impressions upon the minds and hearts of 
the children. It was sowing good seed in promis- 
ing soil, the fruit of which was seen in after years. 
" On Monday I talked with Molly, on Tuesday 
with Hetty, Wednesday with Nancy, Thursday 
with Jacky, Friday with Patty, Saturday with 
Charles, and with Emilia and Sukey together on 

Susanna ¥/esley and her Son John. 

The training John received from his mother did 
much toward molding his character and shaping 
his destiny. No painter ever took more pains on 
canvas to perfect a picture, than Mrs. Wesley did 
to develope the powers of her gifted son. While 
she was impartial, she took particular pains with 
John, and felt the deepest interest in him, because 
when six years old he had a singular and provi- 
dential escape from being burned to death when 
the parsonage at Epworth was consumed by fire. 
In a private note she refers to this, and says she 
considers herself " under special obligation to be 
more particularly careful of the soul of a child 
whom God had so mercifully provided for." He 
was very young when she used to take him on 
Thursday, as we have seen, and talk to him on re- 
ligious subjects. To her 

The sacred discipline was given 

To train and bring him up for heaven. 

62 Anecdotes of the Wesley r s. 

To show the influence of her Thursday interview 
with John, he writes to her, twenty years after he 
had left the old homestead, and was no more under 
her fostering care, thus : " In many things you 
have interceded for me, and prevailed. Who 
knows but in this, too, 'a complete renunciation of 
the world,' you may be successful. If you can 
spare me only that part of Thursday evening 
which you formerly bestowed on me in another 
manner I doubt not it would be as useful now for 
correcting my heart as it was in forming my judg- 
ment." The Church and the world know well the 
results of such training. 

Susanna Wesley and her Daughter Emilia. 

Emilia Wesley was the eldest of the seven 
daughters who survived their father. The strong 
desire her mother felt for the cultivation of her 
mind and the improvement of her heart is evident 
from Mrs. Wesley writing to her an epistle of sixty 
pages, abounding in cautions and wise suggestions 
and counsels for her future conduct. The manu- 
script is still preserved, a rich legacy of a mother's 
love. It bears this title : " A Religious Conference 
between M. and E." It has this motto : " I write 
unto you, 'Little children, of whom I travail in birth 
again until Christ be formed in you.' Gal. iv, 19. 
May what is sown in weakness be raised in power ! 
Written for the use of my children, 1711, 1712," 
It is endorsed thus by John Wesley : " My mother's 
conference with her daughter." 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 


Susanna Wesley and her Daughter Martha. 

Mrs. Wesley one day went into the nursery 
during the hours of play, and finding the children 
full of mirth, hilarity, and glee, said to them with 
much pleasantry, " Children, you will all be more- 
serious one day." Martha, familiarly called " Pat- 
ty," who was constitutionally grave, from her quiet 
corner inquired, with innocent and childlike sim- 
plicity and deep solemnity, " Shall I be more seri- 
ous, mother ? " Her candid appeal was answered 
in the negative. 

Martha and her Brothers. 

There was a striking resemblance between Mar- 
tha and her brother John in looks, in disposition, 
and in their handwriting. She used to say she 
was " the only one in the family without wit." 
Charles Wesley said, " Patty was always too wise 
to be witty." She was, like her brothers, unbound- 
edly liberal. Charles used to say, " It is in vain to 
give Pat any thing, for she always gives it away to 
some people poorer than herself." 

She criticised most severely Charles's hymn be- 

" Ah, lovely appearance of death. 
What sight upon earth is so fair? " 

She did not believe at all in the lovely appear- 
ance of death, but thought it repulsive, and she 
never would look at a corpse, " because," she said, 
" it was beholding sin upon its throne." 

64 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

Susanna Wesley and the Archbishop of York. 

When Samuel Wesley was in prison for debt in 
Lincoln Castle the Archbishop of York said to her, 
" Tell me, Mrs. Wesley, whether you ever really 
wanted bread." " My lord," said she, " I will 
freely own to your Grace that, strictly speaking, I 
never did want bread ; but then I had so much 
care to get it before it was eaten, and to pay for it 
after, as has often made it very unpleasant to me. 
And I think to have bread on such terms is the 
next degree of wretchedness to having none at 
all." His lordship seemed very thoughtful, and 
replied, " You are certainly right ;" and the next 
morning he sent her a handsome present, which 
not only relieved her, but was a source of consola- 
tion to his Grace in after years. 

Susanna Wesley and her Husband. 

While the Wesley family were at Epworth, liv- 
ing on a small salary, struggling with poverty and 
debt, and suffering persecution — he patiently toiling 
and she quietly suffering — we cannot wonder that 
she thought the talents, education, and industry 
of her noble husband merited a larger place. 
" Did I not know that Almighty Wisdom hath 
views and ends in fixing the bounds of our habita- 
tion which are out of our ken, I should think it a 
thousand pities that a man of his brightness and 
rare endowments of learning and useful knowledge 

A7iecdotes of the Wesley s. 


in relation to the Church of God should be con- 
fined to an obscure corner of the country, where 
his talents are buried, and he determined to a way 
of life for which he is not as well qualified as I 
could wish." 

Martha and Samuel Johnson* 

They were great friends, and had many argu- 
ments together. One day he was talking on the 
unhappiness of human life. She said, " Doctor, 
you have always lived, not among the saints, but 
among the wits, who are a race of people the most 
unlikely to seek true happiness or find the pearl 
of great price." 

Susanna Wesley and the Unauthorized Meetings, 

While her husband was absent in London in 
1711, attending Convocation, Mrs. Wesley adopted 
the practice of reading in her family, and instruct- 
ing them. One of the servants told his parents, 
and they wished to come. - These told others, and 
they came, till the congregations amounted to 
forty, and increased till they were over two hun- 
dred, and the parsonage could not contain all that 
came. She read to them the best and most awak- 
ening sermons she could find in the library, and 
talked to the people freely and affectionately. 
These meetings were held u because she thought 
the end of the institution of the Sabbath was not 



Anecdotes of the Wesley s, 

fully answered by attending Church unless the in- 
termediate spaces of time were filled up by other 
acts of devotion." Inman, the Curate, was a very 
stupid and narrow man. He became jealous be- 
cause her audience was larger than his, and he 
wrote to Mr. Wesley, complaining that his wife, in 
his absence, had turned the parsonage into a con- 
venticle ; that the Church was likely to be scan- 
dalized by such irregular proceedings ; and that 
they ought to be tolerated no longer." Mr. Wes- 
ley wrote to his wife that she should get some one 
else to read the sermons. She replied that there 
was not a man there who could read a sermon 
without spoiling it. Inman, the Curate, still 
complained, and the Rector wrote to Mrs. Wes- 
ley that the meetings should be discontinued. 
Mrs. Wesley answered him by showing what 
good the meetings had done, and that none were 
opposed to them but Mr. Inman and one other. 
She then concludes with these wonderful sen- 
tences : " If after all this you think fit to dis- 
solve this assembly do not tell me you desire me 
to do it, for that will not satisfy my conscience ; 
but send your positive command in such full 
and express terms as may absolve me from all 
guilt and punishment for neglecting this oppor- 
tunity for doing good when you and I khall appear 
before the great and awful tribunal of our Lord 
Jesus Christ." 

Were not these the first Methodist meetings 
held by the Wesleys ? 

Can we wonder that Isaac Taylor says that 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


" the mother of the Wesleys was the mother of 
Methodism ;" and that in her characteristic letter, 
when she said, "'Do not advise me, but command 
me to desist, 5 " she was bringing to its place a cor- 
ner-stone of the future of Methodism." 

Who can tell the influence those meetings of 
their mother in the parsonage had upon John and 
Charles in future years, who were then little boys, 
and always present! 

Susanna Wesley, her Husband and Brother. 

There was at one time an unhappy difference 
between Mrs. Wesley's brother and her husband. 
They ceased to correspond, and after intercourse 
had been resumed, her brother severely censured 
Samuel Wesley. 

In her reply she vindicates her husband, and 
says, " I am on the wrong side of fifty, infirm and 
weak ; yet old as I am, since I have taken my hus- 
band for better, for worse, I'll keep my residence 
with him. Where he lives will I live, where he 
dies will I die, and there will I be buried. God 
do so unto me, and more also, if aught but death 
part him and me. Confinement is nothing to one 
that by sickness is compelled to spend a great part 
of her time in a chamber ; and I sometimes think, 
if it was not on account of Mr. Wesley and the 
children, it would be perfectly indifferent to my 
soul whether she ascended to the supreme Origin 

68 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

of being from a jail or a palace, for God is every- 

" Nor walls, nor locks, nor bars, nor deepest shade, 
Nor closest solitude, excludes his presence ; 
And in what place soever he vouchsafes 
To manifest his presence, there is heaven." 

Was there ever a truer woman or a more faith- 
ful wife ? 

Susanna Wesley and her Bereaved Brother. 

Mrs. Wesley had seen much affliction. Her 
husband had been in prison for debt, she had suf- 
fered from poverty and sickness, some of her chil- 
dren had died, and others married unhappily. 
She wrote thus to her brother in bereavement, 
" O, sir, happy, thrice happy are you ; happy is 
my sister that buried your children in infancy ! 
Secure from temptation, secure from guilt, secure 
from want or shame or loss of Mends, they are 
safe beyond the reach of pain or sense of misery. 
Being gone hence, nothing can touch them further. 
Believe me, sir, it is better to mourn ten children 
dead than one living, and I have buried many" 

Susanna Wesley and Amusements. 

Much has been said and written lately on re- 
ligious amusements. In very early life Mrs. Wesley 
adopted this sensible rule in regard to amusements : 
Never to spend any more time in any matter of 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

6 9 

mere recreation in one day than she spent in private 
religious duties." 

In after years, in writing to her son John, she 
says : u Would you judge of the lawfulness or un- 
lawfulness of pleasure, of the innocence or malig- 
nity of actions ? Take this rule : Whatever weakens 
your reason, impairs the tenderness of your con- 
science, obscures your sense of God, or takes off 
the relish of spiritual things ; in short, whatever 
increases the strength and authority of your body 
over your mind, that thing is sin to you, however 
innocent it may be in itself." What a world of 
wisdom there is in this rule ! Whoever follows it 
will not err in regard to amusements. 

Susanna Wesley, Charles, and Samuel. 

Mrs. Wesley was left in the loneliness of widow- 
hood and in poverty. On the death of her husband 
Charles wrote to his brother Samuel, giving him 
the particulars. Samuel was a noble, loving son, 
all kindness to his mother and to the younger mem- 
bers of the family. Charles said, "If you take 
London on your way, my mother desires you to 
remember she is a clergyman's widow. Let the 
society give her what they please, she must in 
some degree be burdensome to you, as she calls it. 
How do I envy you that glorious burden, and wish 
I could share it ! You must put me in some way 
of getting a little money, that I may do something 
In this shipwreck of the family, though it be no 

yo Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

more than furnishing a plank." Happy, indeed, 
was the mother who had two such noble sons to 
whom she could look in her solitude and de- 
pendence ! 

Susanna Wesley and her Grandchildren. 

John Wesley never spoiled a story for the sake 
of relatives. In his sermon on Training Children 
he says, " In fourscore years I have never met with 
one woman who knew how to manage grand- 
children. My own mother, who governed her chil- 
dren so well, could never govern one grandchild." 

Susanna Wesley, John, and Charles. 

Mrs. Wesley has been represented as opposed to 
the great work of reformation in which her sons 
were engaged. The Rev. Mr. Badcock so pub- 
lished in the New Review of 1784. He said, " Mrs. 
Wesley lived long enough to deplore the extrava- 
gance of her two sons, John and Charles, consider- 
ing them c under strong delusions to believe a lie. 5 " 
John Wesley answered thus : " By vile representa- 
tions she was deceived for a time. But she no 
sooner heard them speak for themselves than she 
was thoroughly convinced they were in no delusion, 
4 but spoke the words of truth and soberness.' She 
afterward lived with me several years, and died 
rejoicing and praising God."* 

* Wesley's Works, vol. vii, p. 415. 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


Susanna Wesley, John, and his Mission. 

John Wesley was urged to go out as a missionary 
to the American Indians in 1735, the year in which 
his father died, and his widowed mother was not 
only left alone, but poor, and dependent upon her 
children for support. If ever she needed them near 
her that was the time. John was a most dutiful son, 
and loved his mother as he did his life. Her word 
was law and gospel to him. His reply to the invi- 
tation did honor to his head and heart. He said, 
" I can be the staff of her age, her chief support 
and comfort, and I will leave it with her to decide, 
and that shall settle the question." Her answer 
was just what might have been expected from such 
a woman as Susanna Wesley. It was perfectly 
characteristic. She not only consented to John 
and Charles going to America as missionaries to 
the Indians, but said, "If Iliad twenty so?is I should 
rejoice tha t they v:ere all so employed though I never 
should see them again" 

Susanna Wesley, John, and Thomas Maxfield. 

Mrs. Wesley was the counselor of her son in 
youth, and in manhood he relied upon her judg- 
ment. While she resided with him in London, 
Thomas Maxfield, a young man of great promise, 
was converted. John Wesley was absent to visit 
other societies, and he left one in London in care 
of young Maxfield. The young man at first 


Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

read the Scriptures, but soon began to expound, 
and from that he preached. The transition was 
easy and natural. He soon preached with such 
eloquence and power as astonished his hearers. 
Lady Huntingdon heard him with profound ad- 
miration, and expressed her astonishment at his 
superior talents, and doubted not but he was an in- 
strument chosen of God for the work of the minis- 
try. His preaching, however, was soon represented 
to Mr. Wesley as an act of unprecedented irregular- 
ity, and that his presence was required to put a stop 
to it ; therefore he hastened back to London for that 
purpose. When he returned home his mother 
perceived marks of displeasure in his counte- 
nance, and she inquired the cause. He replied, " I 
find Thomas Maxfield has turned preacher." His 
mother looked at him seriously, and said, " John, 
you know what my sentiments have been; you 
cannot suspect me favoring readily any thing of 
this kind ; but take care what you do with respect 
to that young man ; he is as surely called of God 
to preach as you are. Examine what have been 
the fruits of his preaching, and hear him yourself." 
Mr. Wesley followed the advice of his mother, 
went and heard Thomas Maxfield pi each, and ex- 
pressed at once his entire satisfaction and sanction 
by saying, " It is the Lord, let him do as seemeth 
him good." Thomas Maxfield was John Wesley's 
first lay preacher. 


The world is my parish." 



"We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths. 
In feelings, not as figures on a dial. 
"We should count time by heart-throbs. He most lives 
Who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best.' 1 

The fame of John Wesley is world-wide, and each 
succeeding age adds to its brilliancy. In our brief 
space we cannot paint his portrait; we can only 
sketch the outlines. John Wesley, second son of 
Samuel and Susanna Wesley, was born in the old 
parsonage at Epworth the 17th of June, 1703. 
After the home-training he went to the Charter- 
house School in London, and then to the University 
at Oxford. He was small in stature, like his brother 
Charles and Dr. Coke. These three "little men" 
made a great change in the moral world: John 
Wesley, the founder of one of the largest Churches in 
Christendom ; Charles Wesley, the world-renowned 
Christian poet; and Thomas Coke, the great 
founder of modern missions. John had a powerful 
but practical intellect. He was no visionary, to 
build castles in the air. As a scholar, he was 
familiar with the whole field of literature ; as a 
writer, his style was pure, clear, and transparent to 
a rare degree. His sermons were plain, practical. 

7 6 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

powerful, scripturally rich, for, like Apollos, he was 
"mighty in the Scriptures." He shows keen exe- 
getical talent in his Xotes on the iNew Testament. 
In dialectics he had rare skill; his controversial 
writings abound in illustrations of this faculty. 
He was born a legislator. " The Deed of Declara- 
tion," by which he secured the chapels to the Con- 
nection, and an itinerant ministry to the Churches 
to the end of time, show his great legislative talent, 
and that he was far in the advance of the age in 
which he lived. He was in "labors more abun- 
dant." Xo man since the days of Paul ever accom- 
plished more evangelical labors. His travels were 
very extensive. He was like the angel John saw 
flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting 
Gospel. His piety was of the cheerful kind; he 
lived in the sunshine, and walked in the light. 
There was nothing; in him of sour godliness. Mr. 
Wesley was the best of company, having a rich 
fund of anecdote; when he would unbend he was 
as playful as a child." He was dignified, yet he did 
" not mind high things," but condesended " to men 
of low estate." He was alike at home in the palace 
or the cottage, company for princes or peasants, for 
adults or children. While for some of his best 
traits he was indebted to his mother, his sparkling 
wit and poetic talent he inherited from his father. 
Mr. Wesley was distinguished for boundless be- 
nevolence, untiring industry, indomitable firmness, 
unfaultering courage, unwearied patience, perpetual 
cheerfulness, seraphic devotion, and heavenly en- 
thusiasm. In him was blended the courage of 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


Luther with the prudence of Melanchthon, the zeal 
of Peter with the affection of John. 

His character will more fully appear in the 
anecdotes in this volume, which show him not only 
in public but in private ; not only in the parlor, sur- 
rounded by elegance and beauty, but in his every 
day dress " with the common people, who heard 
him gladly." 

One who knew him very intimately thus de- 
scribes him : " His countenance as well as his con- 
versation expressed an habitual gayety of heart, 
which nothing but conscious innocence and virtue 
could have bestowed. He was in truth the most 
perfect specimen of moral happiness I ever saw, 
and my acquaintance with him has done more to 
teach me wmat a heaven upon earth is implied in 
the maturity of Christian piety than all I have 
elsewhere seen or heard or read, except in the sa- 
cred volume. 5 ' * 

Another says, concerning Wesley, "I consider 
him the most influential mind of the last century ; 
the man who will have produced the greatest ef- 
fects centuries, or perhaps millenniums hence, if 
the present race of men should continue so long.f 
After a life of unparalleled usefulness he died in 
holy triumph the 2d of March, 1791." 

The death of Mr. Wesley was almost a transla- 
tion, and has furnished a theme for the painter. 
It was a sublime conclusion of an eventful life. 
His sun went down full-orbed, to rise in fairer 
* Alexander Knox. 

f Southey — Correspondence with Wilberforce. 


Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

heavens, leaving lingering rays of light and beauty 
behind, showing not only the glorious termination 
of the clay, but the brilliant immortality that fol- 


John Wesley and the Fire. 

On the 9th of February, 1709, the parsonage at 
Epworth was discovered to be on fire at midnight, 
and in midwinter. The father of the Wesleys was 
awakened out of sleep by a cry of " fire, fire," 
from the street. He opened his bedroom door, 
and, to his astonishment, found the house full of 
smoke, and the roof so burned that it was ready to 
fall in. He directed his wife and two girls to arise 
and flee for their lives, she bursting open the door 
of the nursery where the maid was sleeping with 
five children. She took up the youngest, and bade 
the others to follow her. The three eldest did so; 
but John, who was then six years old, was not 
awakened, and in the alarm and confusion was 
forgotten. The rest of the family escaped, some 
through the windows, and others by the garden 
door, and Mrs. Wesley, to use her own expression, 
"waded through the fire." At this time John, 
who had been forgotten until that moment, was 
heard crying in the nursery. The father ran to 
the stairs, but they were so nearly consumed that 
they could not bear his weight, and being utterly 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


in despair, he fell upon his knees in the hall, and 
in agony commended the soul of the child to God. 
John had been awakened by the light and noise, 
and finding it impossible to escape by the door, 
climbed upon a chest that stood near the window, 
and he was then seen from the door-yard. It was 
a critical moment. There was no time for pro- 
curing a ladder ; but one man was hoisted on the 
shoulders of another, and thus he was rescued 
from the flames. A moment more and it would 
have been too late, for the roof fell in with a tre- 
mendous crash. 

When the father saw that John was safe, with a 
heart overflowing with gratitude he exclaimed, 
" Come, neighbors, let us kneel down ; let us give 
thanks to God ! He has given me all my eight 
children. Let the house go, I am rich enough." 

The next day Samuel Wesley, as he was walk- 
ing in his garden surveying the ruins of his house, 
found a part of a leaf of his Polyglot Bible on 
which these were the only legible words : " Go 
sell all that thou hast, and take up thy cross 
and follow me." Mr. Wesley bore his loss like 
a Christian philosopher. He said, as all his fur- 
niture was burned up, " We have now little 
more than Adam and Eve had when they went to 

John Wesley, through a long life, remembered 
with gratitude his wonderful rescue from the de- 
vouring flames. 

Under one of his portraits, published during his 
life-time, is a representation of a house on fire, with 

8o Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

this inquiry: "Is not this a brand plucked out of 
the burning ? " 

There is also an engraving on a large scale of 
the house on fire, and the escape of little John, It 
is called " The Bbaxd." 

John Wesley at the Charter-house School. 

After his home training John Wesley, as has 
been said, was sent to the Charter-house in Lon- 
don. This was in 1714. The Charter-house is in 
the heart of London. It was originally built for a 
monastery. In 1611 it was sold at auction for 
thirteen thousand pounds to Thomas Sutton, Esq., 
one of the richest merchants of the day, who es- 
tablished the present institution, for which he ob- 
tained a charter from King James I. Its object 
was twofold — education for the young, and sup- 
port for the aged. In this school forty-four boys 
are gratuitously fed, clothed, and instructed in the 
classics. They must be between the ages of ten 
and fifteen years, and can remain only eight years. 
Here men who rose high in the world went to 
school. Here those polished essayists, Addison 
and Steele, and the great legal commentator, Sir 
William Blackstone, and the distinguished theolo- 
gians, Isaac Barrow and John Wesley were edu- 
cated. John Wesley was a great favorite with 
Dr. Walker, the head master, on account of his 
diligence in study as well as his sobriety, and he 
received many acts of kindness from him. He 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 8 1 

ever remembered him with gratitude. The older 
boys ate up his meat, aud for some time he lived 
on bread. What contributed to his health was 
taking the advice of his father — running round 
the Charter-house garden every morning three 
times. Here he made great proficiency in his 
studies. He ever after had a remarkable love for 
the place, and during his annual visits to London 
he was accustomed to walk through the Charter- 
Louse, recalling with intense delight the scenes of 
his youth. 

John Wesley and Dr. Henry Sacheverell. 

Henry Sacheverell was ten years younger than 
Samuel Wesley, senr. He had fine talents, but 
was one of the highest of High Churchmen, and a 
perfect firebrand of a preacher. He published two 
bitter sermons, and the most intense excitement 
followed. The House of Commons passed a reso- 
lution that they " were malicious, scandalous, and 
seditious libels, highly reflecting upon her Majesty 
and her government, the late happy Revolution, 
and the Protestant succession as by law estab- 
lished," and ordered that he should attend at the 
bar of the House. He was tried, and found guilty 
on February, 1710. The defense which he deliv- 
ered on the occasion was written by Samuel Wes- 
ley. Some years after the trial, as John Wesley 
was about to be entered at Oxford as a student, 
his father, in view of the service he had rendered 
Dr Sacheverell, and knowing he had strong infiu- 

82 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

ence at the college, directed his son to call upon 
the doctor and get letters of recommendation. 
John Wesley called on him, and relates the inter- 
view in his own peculiar style. He says : " I was 
a very little fellow when I was introduced to him. 
I found him alone, as tall as a May-pole, and as 
fine as an Archbishop. After I made known to 
him the object of my visit, he said, ' You are too 
young to go to the University. You cannot know 
Greek and Latin yet. Go back to school.' " Cer- 
tainly this was very cool treatment from a man 
whom his father had so greatly befriended. In- 
stead of discouraging him, however, it stirred up 
the righteous soul of the young aspirant for knowl- 
edge. John "Wesley says, "I looked at him as 
Goliath looked at David, and despised him in my 
heart. I thought, If I do not know Greek and 
Latin better than you I ought to go back to school 
indeed. I left him, and neither entreaties nor com- 
mands could have again brought me back to him." 

John Wesley and his Brother Samuel. 

John had studied with his brother Samuel, who 
wrote to his father, " Jack is with me, and a brave 
boy, learning Hebrew as fast as he can." While 
J ohn was at Oxford, Samuel had the misfortune to 
break his leg. He wrote a letter to John in a vein 
of pleasantry informing him of it. John was just 
twenty-one years old. His reply is characteristic : 
" I believe," said he, " I need not use many argu- 
ments to show I am sorry for your misfortune, 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s< 


though at the same time I am glad you are in a 
fair way of recovery. If I had heard of it from 
any one else, I might probably have pleased you 
with some impertinent consolations ; but your way 
of relating it is a sufficient proof that they are what 
you don't stand in need of. And, indeed, if I un- 
derstand you rightly, you have more reason to 
thank God that you did not break both legs, than to 
repine because you have broke one leg. You have 
undoubtedly heard the story of the Dutch seaman 
who, having broken one of his legs by a fall from 
the main-mast, instead of condoling with himself, 
thanked God he had not broke his neck." 

Samuel's Poetical Epistle. 

Samuel visited Oxford while his brothers were 
there, and on his return home he wrote a poetic 
epistle to Charles, in which he thus inquires con- 
cerning his brother John : 

" One or two questions more before I end 
That much concern a brother and a friend. 
Does John seem bent beyond his strength to go, 
To his frail carcass literally foe? 
Lavish of health, as if in haste to die, 
And shorten time, to insure, eternity ? " 

John Wesley and the poor Maid. 

The following anecdote is given in Wesley's 
own words : " Many years ago, when I was at Ox- 
ford, on a cold winter's day, a young maid (one of 

84 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

those we kept in school) called upon me. I said, 
'You seem half starved. Have you nothing to 
cover you but that thin linen gown? 5 She said, 
; Sir, this is all I have. 5 I put my hand into my 
packet, but found I had scarce any money left, 
having just paid away what I had. It immediately 
struck me, Will thy Master say, 6 Well done, good 
and faithful steward ! Thou hast adorned thy 
walls with the money which might have screened 
this poor creature from the cold! 5 O justice! O 
mercy ! are not these pictures the blood of this poor 
maid? See thy expensive apparel in the same 
light ! thy gown, hat, head-dress ! Every thing 
about thee that cost more than Christian duty re- 
quired thee to lay out is the blood of the poor ! 
O be wise for time to come ! Be merciful ; more 
faithful to God and man ; more abundantly adorned 
with good works. 55 * 

John Wesley and the Serious Man. 

John Wesley, influenced by the writings of 
Thomas a Kempis and Mr. Law, was disposed to 
exclude himself from society and enjoy a solitary 
religion. He traveled a number of miles to see a 
" serious man, 55 and to have some conversation 
with him. " Sir, 55 said the man, " you wish to serve 
God and go to heaven; remember, you cannot 
serve him alone; you must therefore find com- 
panions or make them. The Bible knows nothing 
* Sermon on Dress, vol. ii, p. 262. 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 


of solitary religion." These words made a deep 
impression upon the heart of Mr. Wesley; they 
gave a turn to his whole life, and had an influence 
upon his future destiny and the destiny of millions. 
This was good advice, given at the right time. How 
true, that 11 words fitly spoken are like apples 
of gold in pictures of silver." In after years Mr. 
Wesley was ever ready to exclaim, in the language 
of his brother Charles, 

" Not in the tombs we pine to dwell. 
Not in the dark monastic cell. 

By vows and grates confined; 
Freely to all ourselves we give, 
Constrained by Jesus's love to live, 

The servants of mankind." 

John Wesley and the Holy Club. 

In 1729 several young men at Oxford united 
together to study the Holy Scriptures in the original, 
and to aid each other in a life of godliness. At 
first there were four, John and Charles Wesley, 
Mr. Morgan and Mr. Kirkham. Twice a week 
they fasted, and every week partook of the Lord's 
Supper. They practiced the most rigid self-denial, 
and were almost monastic in their habits. Others 
joined them: Ingham, Clayton, Hervey, author 
of "The Meditations," and "Whitefield, the un- 
equaled pulpit orator. They were called by ridi- 
cule " The Holy Club." John Wesley was born to 
command, and he was their acknowledged leader. 
His father, Samuel Wesley, wrote thus: "I hear 

86 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

my John has the honor of being styled 'The 
Father of the Holy Club.' If it be so, I am sure 
I am the grandfather of it ; and I need not say 
that I had rather any of my sons should be so dig- 
nified and distinguished than to have the title of 
6 His Holiness.' " Noble father of noble sons ! 

John Wesley on Reason- 
Samuel Wesley, when John was young, said to 
him, " Child, you think to carry every thing by 
dint of argument, but you will find by and by how 
little is ever done in the world by clear reason." 
" Very little indeed ! " said John Wesley when 
grown up to manhood, "It is true of almost all 
men, except so far as we are taught of God, 

' Against experience we believe ; 

"We argue against demonstration ; 
Pleased while our reason we deceive, 

And set our judgment by our passion.' 

Passion and prejudice govern the world, only un- 
der the name of reason. It is our part, by religion 
and reason joined, to counteract them all we can." 

His father used to say, "As for Jack, he will 
have a reason for every thing he is to do. I sup- 
pose he would not do any thing unless he had a 
reason for it." In 1725, while John Wesley was at 
Oxford, he wrote to his father. His father, reply- 
ing, he said, "I like your way of thinking and 
arguing, and yet must say I am a little afraid of it, 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


He that believes and yet argues against reason is 
half a papist, or enthusiast. He that makes revela- 
tion bend to his own shallow reason is either half a 
Deist or a heretic. O, my dear, steer clear between 
Seylla and Charybdis ! " This was true concern- 
ing him all along through life. When he was 
spoken to of the probable utility of any proposed 
measure he would say, in his usual kind manner, 
"Hoc age" "Mind the point in hand. Give me 
a reason." 

John Wesley and ¥/illiam Law* 

John Wesley, when quite a young man, read 
"William Law's " Perfection n and his " Serious 
Call to a Holy Life,' 5 and greatly admired them. 
He made Mr. Law several visits in London, and 
they corresponded for several years. On one of 
those interviews Mr. Law said to Mr. Wesley, 
" You have a philosophical religion ; but there is 
no such thing. Religion is the most simple thing 
in the world. It is only c We love Him because he 
first loved us." 3 Mr. Law became a mystic, and 
thirty years after he made this remark Mr. Wes- 
ley wrote him a letter of twenty-six printed pages, 
in which he reviewed his late writings, and he be- 
gins thus : " In matters of religion I regard no 
writings but the inspired. Tauler, Behmen, and a 
whole army of mystic authors are with me nothing 
to St. Paul. In every point I appeal to the law 
and the testimony, and value no authority but 
this. At a time when I was in great danger of 


Anecdotes of the Wesley 's. 

not valuing this authority enough you made that 
important observation : c I see where your mistake 
lies. You would have a philosophical religion ; 
but there can be no such thing, Religion is the 
most plain and simple thing in the world. It is 
only, We love Him because he first loved us. So 
far as you add philosophy to religion just so far 
you spoil it.' This remark I have never forgotten 
since, and I trust in God I never shall. But have 
not you ? Permit me, sir, to speak plainly. Have 
you ever thought of it since ? Is there a writer in 
England who so continually blends philosophy 
with religion ? " He concludes thus : 4< O that 
your latter works may be more and greater than 
your first ! Surely they would if you could ever 
be persuaded to study, instead of the writings of 
Tauler and Behmen, those of St. Paul, James, Peter, 
and John ; to spew out of your mouth and heart 
that vain philosophy and speak neither higher nor 
lower things, neither more nor less than the ora- 
cles of God ; to renounce, despise, abhor all the 
high-flown bombast, all the unintelligible jargon 
of the mystics, and come back to the plain religion 
of the Bible : c We love Him because he first 
loved us.' " 

John Wesley and Apostolical Nostrums. 

John Wesley had learned from Mr. Law and 
other mystic writers sentiments he endeavored to 
inculcate on his visits to his father's house. This 
innovation turned the house upside down. 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

8 9 

" Never," said he, " did I see my motlicr so 
moved. On one occasion she said, with more ap- 
pearance of anger than ever I saw in her before, 
• Shall I be taught by a boy ? ' " But his father 
showed a more sturdy resistance, and when John 
Wesley, from the height of his mystic elevation, 
would enforce the purity he had learned from his 
contemplative friend, the old man desired him " to 
get out of his house with his apostolical nostrums." 
Well does Henry Moore, who relates this anecdote, 
say " they were not indeed apostolical, for they had 
not the evangelical root." And yet Mr. Law did 
John and his brother good. Charles Wesley used 
to say, 44 Mr. Law was our John the Baptist." 

e+e . 

John Wesley and his Fellow Tutors. 

John Wesley animadverts with sarcastic sever- 
ity upon some of his contemporary tutors in the 
University at Oxford 44 who do not," says he, 44 un- 
derstand the very elements of the sciences they 
are to teach ; who know no more of logic or meta- 
physics than of Arabic, or even that odd thing, 
religion. Are not these precious instructors of 
youth ? " 

John Wesley and Plain People. 

Mr. Wesley recommends the constant use of the 
most plain and easy words which our language 
affords. He writes to one whose style was very 
fine, 44 When I had been a member of the Univer- 

90 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

sity about ten years I wrote and talked much as 
you do now ; but when I talked to plain people in 
the Castle or the town I observed they gaped and 
stared. This quickly obliged me to alter my style, 
and adopt the language of those I spoke to. And 
yet there is a dignity in this simplicity which is 
not disagreeable to those of the highest rank." 

John Wesley and Queen Caroline. 

John Wesley's father, as has been seen, dedi- 
cated three of his volumes to British Queens : the 
" Life of Christ " to Queen Mary, the " History of 
the Old and New Testaments" to Queen Anne, 
and the " Dissertations on the Book of Job " to 
Queen Caroline. The latter work cost him ten 
times more labor than the others, and was dedi- 
cated to the Queen by permission. He made this 
dedication not so much to obtain royal patronage, 
but because he admired the Queen as an " en- 
courager of learning." John was requested by his 
father a little before his death to present it to her 
Majesty in the name of his deceased father. John 
made the presentation on Sunday, October 12, 
1735, a few days before he sailed for Georgia. 
Mr. Wesley says he had many good words and 
smiles ; that when he was introduced into the 
royal presence the Queen was romping with her 
maids of honor ; but she suspended her play, re- 
ceived and heard him graciously, took the book 
from his hand, which he presented to her kneeling 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 


on one knee, looked at the outside, and said, " It is 
prettily bound," and then laid it down in a win- 
dow without opening a leaf. He rose up, bowed, 
walked backward, and withdrew. The Queen 
bowed and smiled and spoke several kind words, 
and immediately resumed her sport. 

This Sunday transaction was not very creditable 
to the memory either of the Queen or of Mr. 

John Wesley and the Storm at Sea. 

On board the ship in which Mr. Wesley sailed for 
Georgia there were a number of German Moravians. 
During the voyage a tremendous storm arose, and 
Wesley was greatly alarmed, feeling unprepared 
to die. The lively faith of the Moravians he ad- 
mired, which in the midst of danger kept their 
minds in a state of tranquillity to which he and the 
English on board were strangers. At the begin- 
ning of their service, while the Moravians were 
singing, the sea broke over the ship, split the 
mainsail in pieces, the water pouring in between 
the decks as if the great deep would swallow 
them up. The English were greatly terrified and 
screamed from fear, while the Moravians were un- 
moved and calmly sung on. 

Mr. Wesley asked one of them afterward if he 
were not afraid? He answered: "I thank God, 
no." "But were not your women and children 
afraid?" He replied mildly, "No; our women 
and children are not afraid to die." 

92 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

This convinced Mr. Wesley that the Moravians 
possessed something of which he was destitute, 
and he rested not until he obtained that faith that 
could smile in the midst of an ocean storm — that 
hope which is like an anchor to the soul — that love 
that casteth out fear. 

John Wesley and Religious Quixotism. 

Mr. Wesley was about to leave his native coun- 
try to embark for America as a missionary to the 
Indians. A gentleman, who thought it foolish for 
him to go, said to him, " What is this, sir ? Are 
you one of the knights-errant ? How, I pray, got 
Quixotism in your head ? You want nothing. 
You have a good provision for life, and are in the 
way to preferment ; and must you leave all to 
fight windmills, to convert savages in Ameri- 
ca ? " Mr. Wesley answered feelingly and calmly, 
" Sir, if the Bible be not true, I am as very a fool 
and madman as you can conceive ; but if it be of 
God, I am sober-minded, for he hath declared, 
c There is no man that hath left house, or parents, 
or brethren for the kingdom of God's sake, who 
shall not receive manifold more in this present time, 
and in the world to come life everlasting.' " 

John Wesley and General Oglethorpe. 

General James Oglethorpe was the intimate 
friend of the father of the Wesleys. He was 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys, 


Governor of Georgia, and it was through his in- 
fluence John and Charles Wesley were secured as 
missionaries to Georgia. 

On their voyage to America John Wesley heard 
a great noise in the cabin of Governor Oglethorpe, 
and went in to ascertain the cause. As he entered 
he found the Governor in a great rage. Said he : 
"Mr. Wesley, you must excuse me. I have met 
with a provocation too great for any man to bear. 
You know the only wine I drink is Cyprus wine. 
I, therefore, provided myself with several dozens 
of it, and this villain, Grimaldi, [his foreign servant, 
who was almost dead with fear,] has drunk up the 
whole of it ! But I will be revenged on him. I 
have ordered him to be tied hand and foot, and be 
carried to the man-of-war which sails with us. The 
rascal should have taken care how he used me so, 
for I never forgive." " Then," said Mr. Wesley, 
looking calmly at him, "X hope you never sin." 
The General was quite confounded at the reproof, 
and putting his hands into his pocket took out a 
bunch of keys, which he threw at Grimaldi, and 
said, "There, villain, take my keys and behave 
better for the future." 

The Wesleys, Oglethorpe, and the Officers. 

During the voyage the Wesleys visited General 
Oglethorpe in his cabin daily. Upon one of these 
visits some officers and certain gentlemen, who 
were invited guests, not liking the gravity of the 

94 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

ministers, took some very improper liberties with 
them, and were disposed to have some fun at the 
clergymen's expense. 

The General was very indignant at such conduct, 
and in a manner not to be misunderstood ex- 
claimed, " What do you mean, sirs ? Do you take 
these gentlemen for Tithe-pig-parsons ? These are 
gentlemen of learning and reputation. They are 
my friends, and whoever offers any affront to them 
insults me.'" From that time they were treated 
with profound respect, both by the officers and 
passengers, until their voyage ended. 

General Oglethorpe and the French Prince. 

To show further the character of the General, 
with whom the history of the Wesleys was so 
interwoven for a time, we insert the following 
anecdote : 

General Oglethorpe is said to have been a brave 
officer. When he was a young man he entered 
the Austrian service, and was dining one day in 
company with a number of his brother officers, 
among whom was a French prince of the blood 

The Frenchman, who sat opposite to him at 
the table, looked with an air of contempt upon 
the British youth, and taking up his glass drank 
his health, throwing at the same time, with the 
dash of his finger, some drops of wine in his face. 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 


Young Oglethorpe coolly replied, "That is a 
fine joke, Prince; but we play it off better in my 
country," and instantly threw his glass of wine in 
the face of his insult er in return. The Gallic Prince 
instantly arose and began to prepare for deeds of 
honor, when the company insisted upon his sitting 
down because he had offered the first insult. 

John Wesley and Spangenberg. 

Augustus G. Spangenberg was one of the Mora- 
vian Pastors in Georgia. He was great in learning 
and piety. He afterward became Bishop, was the 
author of the Life of Count Zinzendorf and some 
excellent hymns. The Moravians, and among 
others Spangenberg, were hospitable to John 
Wesley on his arrival. 

He inquired of Mr. Wesley, " Does the spirit of 
God bear witness with your spirit that you are a 
child of God ? " Wesley was surprised at the in- 
quiry, and knew not how to answer it. Spangen- 
berg then asked, "Do you know Jesus Christ?" 
" I know him to be the Saviour of the world," re- 
sponded Wesley. "True," said the Moravian; 
" but do you know he has saved you ?" " I hope 
he has died for me," rejoined Wesley. Spangen- 
berg only added, "Do you know yourself?" "I 
do," answered Wesley ; but he adds, " I fear they 
were mere words." 

But the period came when they were something 

g6 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

more than mere words ; when he could not only 
exclaim, in the language of his brother Charles, 

" The Spirit answers to the blood, 
And tells me I am born of G-od," 

but sing with him, 

" How can a sinner know 

His sins on earth forgiven ? 
How can my gracious Saviour show 

My name inscribed in heaven ? 

" What we have felt and seen 

With confidence we tell ; 
And publish to the sons of men 

The signs infallible." 

John Wesley and the Indian Chief. 

Tomo Chachi was an eloquent chief belonging to 
the Creeks. Governor Oglethorpe took him to 
England, where he was fed, feasted, and honored. 
When the chief returned he was introduced to Mr. 
Wesley. He said, through a female interpreter, to 
Mr. Wesley, " I am glad you are come. When I was 
in England I desired some one to speak the great 
word to me, and my nation then desired to hear it. 
But now we are all in confusion, and yet I am glad 
you are come. I will go and speak to the wise 
men of our nation, and hope they will hear. But 
we would not be made Christians as the Spaniards 
make Christians : we would be taught before we 
are baptized." Wesley replied, " There is but one, 
He that sitteth in heaven, who is able to teach man 
wisdom. Though we have come so fai\ we know 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


not whether he will be pleased to teach you by us 
or no. If he teaches you, you will learn wisdom ; 
but we can do nothing." 

When Tomo Chaehi was urged to listen to the 
doctrines of Christianity he keenly replied, a Why, 
there are Christians in Savannah ; there are Chris- 
tians at Frederica." Bfor was it without good 
apparent reason that the poor savage exclaimed, 
" Christian much drunk ! Christian beat men ! 
Christian tell lies ! Devil Christian ! We no 

John Wesley's early Promise and Sir Edward 

The following shows the purity of Wesley's 
character in early life, as well as the various opinions 
entertained concerning him. 

The Rev. Mr. Rowley was Sir Edward Seaward's 
chaplain. In conversation with him Sir Edward 
said, " I have heard a good deal in London from a 
Mr. Powis (who was connected with the minister 
Sir Robert Yv 7 alpole) about a Rev. gentleman 
recently set out for Georgia. I think his name is 
Wesley. In speaking of him Mr. Powis called him 
a crack-brained enthusiast, relating a number of 
strange things he had done, and said, that to cain- 
piete all he had gone to Georgia to convert the 
Indians. Mr. Powis also hinted that Mr. Wesley 
had secret expectations of being ultimately Bishop 
of the Province. Do you know any thing about 
him ? " Mr. Rowley replied : " I remember to have 


9 8 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

heard Mr. John Wesley when at Oxford about 
seven years ago. His conduct and opinions there 
certainly excited some conversation and discussion, 
but I knew but little of him personally. I think, 
however, that he will be highly useful in Georgia ; 
for whatever his peculiar views and doctrines may 
be, his piety is unimpeachable. I never can forget," 
continued he, " an expression of Mr. Gerard, the 
Bishop's chaplain, concerning him. "When George 
Lascelles was launching out against the Curator of 
the Holy Club,* the chaplain said, 4 Whatever eccen- 
tricities John Wesley may have, I mistake much if 
he be not one day a standard-bearer of the Cross, 
whether in his own country or beyond the seas.' 
Now, Sir Edward," continued Mr. Rowley, " I take 
Mr. Gerard to have had as good a sight in this 
matter as the Jesuit Le Jay when he said to his 
pupil Voltaire, 'Young man, the day will arrive 
when you shall be the standard-bearer of Infidelity.' 
The prophecy of Le Jay is fulfilled, and I firmly 
believe so will be that of Gerard. Le Jay saw in 
his pupil Voltaire the most unrestrained skepticism 
and impiety; Gerard observed in Wesley a holy 
zeal burning within him, then restrained, but ready 
to burst into a fiame." f 

John Wesley and the result of his Mission. 

John Wesley, on reviewing the results of his 
mission, says, " I went to America to convert the 

* A nickname for John Wesley, 
f Sir Edward Seaward's Narrative. 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


Indians ; but O ! who shall convert me ? Who, 
what is he that will deliver me from this evil heart 
of unbelief? I have a fair summer religion. I can 
talk well ; nay, and believe myself, while no danger 
is near ; but let death look me in the face and my 
spirit is troubled. Nor can I say, ' To die is gain. 5 n 

" I have a sin of fear, that when IVe spun 
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore/' 

Again: "It is upward of two years since I left 
my native country in order to teach the Georgian 
Indians the nature of Christianity ; but what have 
I learned myself in the meantime? Why, (what I 
Least of all suspected,) that I, who went to America 
to convert others, was never converted myself." 

If his mission to the Xew World benefited no 
one else, he reaped a rich harvest from it. 

John Wesley and Peter Boehler. 

Peter Boehler is a name revered by Methodists 
throughout the world. His honored name is in- 
separably blended with the early history of John 
Wesley and his brother Charles. 

Soon after John Wesley's return from America 
he became acquainted with this distinguished Mo- 
ravian minister, from whom he learned the way of 
God more perfectly. Their acquaintance formed a 
new era in his spiritual history. Mr. Wesley was 
blending philosophy with the simple doctrines of 
the Gospel. Boehler said to him, <; My brother, 


Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

ray brother, that philosophy of yours must be 
purged away." 

The 17th of February, 1737, Mr. Boehler ac- 
companied John and Charles Wesley to Oxford, 
where their character and engagements soon pro- 
voked the mirth of the godless students. The 
reproach the young Wesleys had formerly endured 
was now revived, and even when they walked 
through the squares of the college they were 
mocked and laughed at. Upon one of these occa- 
sions Mr. Boehler, perceiving John Wesley was 
troubled at it chiefly for his sake, said with a 
smile, " My brother, it does not even stick to our 

John Wesley at one time thought of desisting 
from preaching because he who had not faith him- 
self could not preach to others, and he consulted 
Boehler. He told him not to relinquish his work. 
" But what can I preach ? " said Mr. Wesley. 
The reply was, " Preach faith till you have it, 
and then, because you have it, you will preach 

Peter Boehler thus describes the brothers : " I 
traveled with John and Charles Wesley from Lon- 
don to Oxford. The elder brother, John, is a 
good-natured man. He knew he did not believe 
on the Saviour, and was willing to be taught. His 
brother is much distressed in his mind, but does 
not know how he shall begin to be acquainted with 
the Saviour. Our mode of believing is so easy to 
Englishmen they cannot reconcile themselves to it. 
If it was a little more artful they would much 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. ioi 

sooner find their way into it. . . . Of faith in Jesus 
they have no other idea than the generality of 
people have. They justify themselves; therefore 
they always take it for granted that they believe 
already, and would prove their faith by their 
works, and thus plague and torment themselves, 
so that they are at heart very miserable." 

Boehler had a number relate their experience in 
the presence of John Wesley, and he was thunder- 
struck at these narrations. After listening to the 
testimonies, Wesley had a private interview with 
Boehler, and declared he was satisfied of what he had 
said of faith, and he would question no more about 
it ; he was clearly convinced of the want of it. 
He inquired, " How can I help myself, and obtain 
such faith. I am a man who have not sinned 
so grossly as other people." Boehler replied that 
it was sin enough that he did not believe on the 
Saviour. Boehler prayed for him, and called 
upon the bleeding name of the Saviour to have 
compassion on this sinner. While he explained 
to him the way of faith Wesley wept " bitterly 
and heartily." His intercourse with Boehler was 
eminently instructive and encouraging, and by 
this means, to use his own language, on March 5, 
" I was clearly convinced of unbelief, of the want 
of that faith whereby alone we are saved." 

John Wesley's Conversion. 

"If any day is worthy of being regarded as a 
red-letter day ' in the Wesleyan calendar^ or de- 


Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

serving of grateful and sacred commemoration, it 
must be the one on which the founder of Method- 
ism obtained those clear and scriptural views of 
the way of salvation which are expounded and en- 
forced in the doctrinal standards and psalmody of 
the Church that bears his name" 

John Wesley, after groping in darkness for 
years, was translated from darkness to light, and 
he describes the change in language the most sim- 
ple, and yet full of confidence. His brother 
Charles had experienced the forgiveness of sins 
three days before, and John felt greatly encour- 
aged. John's conversion took place at Alders- 
gate-street on Wednesday evening, May 24, 1738, 
while listening to one reading from " Luther's 
Preface to his Epistle to the Romans." He thus 
describes it : " About a quarter before nine, while 
one was describing the change which God works 
in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my 
heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in 
Christ — Christ alone — for salvation. An assurance 
was given me that he had taken away my sins, 
even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and 
death. I then testified openly what I now first 
felt in my heart." Memorable day in history and 
that of the Christian Church ! It had an influence 
on the future destiny of millions. 

- — . — 

John Wesley and his Host. 

Mr. Wesley's life had been so spotless and his 
example so pure before he was justified by faith, 

A?iccdotes of the Wesley s. 103 

that those who knew him believed him to be a 
genuine saint. When he was converted he re- 
sided with James Hutton, and was a great favor- 
ite with the family. Mr. Hutton read a sermon in 
the family one Sunday evening after John pro- 
fessed conversion. John Wesley suddenly rose 
and astonished the household by announcing that 
he had never been a Christian till within the last 
few days. Mr. Hutton, confounded at such a dec- 
laration, called out with the alarm of a respectable 
Churchman, " Have a care, Mr. Wesley, how you 
despise the benefits received by the two sacra- 
ments ! " Mrs. Hutton, more ready witted, an- 
swered with epigramatic sharpness, " If you were 
not a Christian ever since I knew you you were a 
great hypocrite, for you made us all believe you 
were one." 

Mrs. Hutton, sincerely alarmed, wrote a letter 
to his elder brother, Samuel Wesley, at Tiverton, 
narrating the proofs of religious madness given by 
his younger brother, and imploring him to help. 
i; Your brother John," she wrote, " seems to have 
turned a wild enthusiast or fanatic, and, to our 
great affliction, is drawing our two children into 
these wild notions by their great opinion of John's 
sanctity and judgment. It would be a great char- 
ity to many other honest and well-meaning souls, 
as well as to my children, if you could either con- 
fine or convert Mr. John, when he is with you." 
Samuel answered in a sorrowful vein, lamenting the 
folly of John and Charles, saying, " If once turned 
t'n at way his brothers would do a world of mis- 

104 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

cliief ; much more than otherwise they could have 
done good, since men are much easier led into evil 
than from it." But the scene changed. The hos- 
tility of Mrs. Hutton gave way, and she soon re- 
gained her confidence in the " enthusiast ;" and 
since then four or five generations have risen up 
to bless God for the " mischief " that was quickly 
done by this most salutary enthusiasm, and that 
spreads from the equator to the poles. 

John Wesley and the Bigot. 

Wherever bigotry dwelt it found no place in the 
bosom of John Wesley. A more catholic spirit 
never dwelt in the bosom of man. There was a 
man by the name of Acourt in the London Socie- 
ties, who was not only a bigot, but a troubler of 
Israel, and who would argue in favor of his pe- 
culiar tenets at the devotional meetings. Charles 
Wesley heard of his conduct, and denied him admis- 
sion. The next meeting, when John was present, 
Acourt came and inquired of him if he had been 
excluded for his opinions. Mr. Wesley asked, 
" Which opinions ? " He replied, " That of elec- 
tion. I hold that a certain number are elected 
from eternity, and they must and shall be saved, 
and the rest of mankind must and shall be 
damned." He stated, " There are others in the 
Society of the same faith." Mr. Wesley replied 
that he never questioned their opinions. All he 
demanded was, that they should not trouble others 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 


by disputing about them. He said, " Nay, but I 
will dispute about them. You are all wrong, and 
I am determined to set you right." Mr, Wesley 
answered, " I fear your coming with this view will 
neither profit you nor us." Acourt said, " I will 
go, then, and tell all the world that you and your 
brother are false prophets, and I tell you that in a 
fortnight you will all be in confusion." * He left, 
but his prediction proved false. 

«>-*>-$ ■ 

John Wesley and the Bishop of Londonderry. 

Dr. Barnard, the Bishop of Londonderry, was a 
very catholic man, a great friend of John Wesley, 
and one who favored his labors in Ireland. Mr. 
Wesley requested him to ordain Thomas Maxfield. 
The Bishop did so, and as he laid his hands on 
the head of young Maxfield to consecrate him to 
the ministry he said, " Sir, I ordain you to assist 
that good man, John Wesley, that he may not 
work himself to death." 

John Wesley and the Ungrateful Young Man. 

Maxfield, as has been seen, was John Wesley's 
first lay preacher. Pie had called him out of ob- 
scurity into notice, and had treated him like a son 
in the Gospel, and yet at the time of the defection 
of the fanatical George Bell, Maxfield left also. 
There was quite a division in the Society in Lon- 
* Wesley's Journal. 

106 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

don, and some left, saying, " Blind John is incapa- 
ble of teaching us ; we will keep to Mr. Maxfield." 

When Mr. Wesley found that Maxfield was de- 
termined to go he went into the Foundry, and, 
with serious countenance and tremulous voice, 
preached a mournful sermon from these words : 
" If I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved." 

Mr. Maxfield took with him the disaffected 
members and formed an independent Church at 
Moorfields, where he preached for twenty years. 
Notwithstanding the ingratitude of Mr. Maxfield, 
Mr. Wesley, near the close of life, called to see 
him, and found him sinking under a paralysis, and 
Mr. Wesley knelt down and prayed that the bless- 
ing of God might rest upon him in his last days, 
and then he preached in his chapel. 

9+ t 

John Wesley and Thomas Westell. 

Mr. Westell was Mr. Wesley's third lay preacher, 
Thomas Richards being the second. Thomas West- 
ell was a simple, upright man, whose word the 
Lord had blessed. Mr. Wesley thought, as in the 
case of Thomas Maxfield, to silence him. A pious 
old lady by the name of Canning, of Evesham, 
heard of it, and said to Mr. Wesley in a tone of 
authority, " Stop him at your peril ! He preaches 
the truth, and the Lord owns him as truly as he 
does you or your brother." Mr. Wesley suffered 
him to preach. In this case he was influenced 
by a woman, as he was in reference to Thomas 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s, 107 

Maxfield when his mother plead so eloquently for 
him. The woman was right, as the subsequent 
conduct of Thomas Westell proves. He suffered 
much persecution, was mobbed, and imprisoned ; 
but kept on preaching the Gospel through evil as 
well as good report. He was very useful, a faith- 
ful preacher of the Gospel forty years, and died in 
holy triumph at the age of seventy-four. Most 
honorable mention his brethren make of him in 
four lines in the Minutes of 1794. " Thomas 
Westell, one of the first Methodist preachers. He 
preached the Gospel faithfully for forty years. 
He was a pattern of Christian simplicity and hum- 
ble love. After suffering much, his triumphant 
spirit returned to God in the seventy-fifth year of 
his age." He w r as buried under Portland Chapel, 
Bristol, where Captain Thomas Webb was, and 
has a monument on the outside of the Church. 


John Wesley and Robert Ainsworth. 

Mr. Ainsworth was the author of the well-known 
Latin and English Dictionary, and his name is al- 
most as familiar to school-boys as Johnson,Walker, 
Webster, and Worcester. He was a man of ex- 
traordinary learning, as his work shows. Familiar 
as his name is, but few know that he was one of 
the early Methodists. 

As early as April, 1738, John Wesley had an in- 
terview with him, and says, " He was much af- 
fected at the sight of the old man, then nearly 

io8 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

eighty years of age. Like old Simeon, he was 
waiting to see the Lord's salvation, that he might 
die in peace. His tears, his vehemency, and child- 
like simplicity, showed him upon the entrance of 
the kingdom of heaven." Mr. Wesley mentions 
him again with great admiration for his simplicity 
and childlike disposition. Mr. Ainsworth received 
great spiritual benefit from Charles Wesley. 
Charles, in his journal of May, 1737, says, "I was 
much pleased to-day at the sight of Mr. Ains- 
worth, a little child, full of grief and fear and love. 
On our repeating a line of the hymn, c He now de- 
scends and shakes the earth,' he fell prostrate." 
This splendid scholar and simple-hearted Christian 
died in holy triumph in 1743. 

John Wesley's First Extemporaneous Sermon. 

Mr. Wesley was at first a reader of sermons, 
and thought he could preach in no other way. 
An extemporaneous preacher will always have the 
advantage over the reader of sermons. Could 
Whitefield or John Wesley have preached with 
such power or pathos as mere readers ? Mr. 
Wesley related the following anecdote to Mr. 
Thomas Letts, of Allhallows Church, London. 
While he was putting on his gown in the vestry 
he said to him, " It is fifty years, sir, since I first 
preached in this church. I remember it from a 
peculiar circumstance that occurred at that time. 
I came without a sermon, and going up the pulpit 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 109 

stairs I hesitated, and returned into the vestry 
under much mental confusion and agitation. A 
woman who was there noticed that I was deeply 
agitated, and she inquired, £ Pray, sir, what is the 
matter with you ? 5 I replied, ' I have not brought 
a sermon with me.' Putting her hand upon my 
shoulder, she said, 4 Is that all ? Cannot you trust 
God for a sermon ? 5 That question had such an 
effect upon me that I ascended the pulpit and 
preached extempore, with great freedom to myself 
and acceptance to the people, and I have never 
since taken a written sermon into the pulpit." * 

Would it not be well for some of the pulpit 
readers of the day if some mother in Israel should 
inquire of them, " Cannot you trust God for a ser- 
mon?" We are glad to say that the sons of Wes- 
ley follow his example in this respect. 

John Wesley and the Prince Royal 

John Wesley went to Germany to visit the Mo- 
ravians, and on his way to Herrmhut he and his 
company were stopped a considerable time at the 
city of Weimar. At last they were brought before 
Frederick, Prince Royal, afterward King of Prus- 
sia. The Prince made many inquiries of Mr. \Yes- 
ley, and among others asked him, " What are you 
going to Herrmhut for ? " Mr. Wesley answered, 
" To see the place where the Christians live." 

* Wesleyan Magazine, 1S25, page 106 — Journal of Mr. 

no Anecdotes of the Wcsleys, 

The Prince looked at him and his companions for 
some time, and then told them to proceed on their 

John Wesley and Extempore Prayer. 

Mr. Wesley not only preached, but also prayed 
extemporaneously. A gentleman who was horror- 
struck at the idea of praying without a book made 
him a visit, and exhorted him not to use extem- 
pore prayer, " which," said he, " is no prayer at 
all, and this I will prove to a demonstration, for 
you cannot do two things at once — thinking how 
to pray and praying being two things ; ergo, you 
cannot think and pray at once." Mr. Wesley in- 
geniously turned the tables on him, and with the 
gentleman's own method of reasoning showed that 
it was impossible to pray with a book. He re- 
plied, " May it not be proved by the self-same 
demonstration that praying by a form is no prayer 
at all ; for example, you cannot do two things at 
once, reading and praying being two things ; ergo^ 
you cannot both read and pray at once." * 

The Origin of Class-meetings. 

The first Methodist chapel erected by Mr. Wes- 
ley was at Bristol, England. When Methodism 
was in its infancy Mr. Wesley met the Society in 
Bristol, and inquired, " How shall we pay the debt 
upon the preaching-house ? " Captain Foy arose, 
* Journal, vol. i, p. 292. 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

1 1 1 

and said, " Let every one of the Society give a 
penny a week and it will be easily done." " But 
many of them," said one, " have not a penny to 
give." " True," said the Captain ; " then put ten 
or tAvelve of them to me. Let each of them give 
what they can weekly, and I will supply what is 
wanting." Many others made the same offer. So 
Mr. Wesley divided the Society among them, assign- 
ing a class of about twelve persons to each of these, 
who were termed Leaders. Not long after the Lead- 
ers, in visiting the members, found one and another 
walking disorderly, and reported the state of things 
to Mr. Wesley. His practical mind said immediately, 
M This is the very thing we want. The Leaders are 
the persons who may not only receive the contri- 
butions, but also watch over the souls of their 
brethren." Such was the origin of class-meetings, 
a means of grace that has been greatly honored of 
God, and for which millions will bless him in eternity. 

John Wesley and Charles Simeon. 

Mr. Simeon gives an account of an interview he 
had with the venerable founder of Methodism a 
short time after Mr. Simeon was ordained. After 
having been introduced to him, Mr. Simeon said to 
Mr. Yv 7 esley : " Sir, I understand that you are called 
an Arminian, and I have sometimes been called a 
Calvinist, and, therefore, I suppose we are to draw 
daggers. But before we begin the combat, with 
your permission I should like to ask you a few 
questions, not for impertinent curiosity, but for 

112 Anecdotes of the Westeys. 

instruction.' 5 Permission was readily and kindly 
granted by Mr. Wesley, and Mr. Simeon proceeded 
to ask : " Pray, sir, do you feel yourself a depraved 
creature, so dependent you would never have 
thought of turning to God if God had not put 
it into your heart?" a Yes," says Mr. Wesley; 
"I do indeed." "And do you utterly despair of 
recommending yourself to God by any thing you 
can do, and look for salvation solely through the 
blood and righteousness of Christ ?" " Yes ; solely 
through Christ." " But, sir, suppose you were first 
saved by Christ, are you not somehow or other to 
save yourself afterward by your own works ? " 
"No," said Mr. Wesley; "I must be saved from 
first to last by Christ." "Allow, then, you were 
first turned by the grace of God, are you not in 
some way to keep yourself by your own power ? " 
" No." " What then ? are you to be upheld every 
hour and every moment by God, as an infant in its 
mother's arms ? " " Yes, altogether." " And is all 
your hope in the grace and mercy of God to pre- 
serve you unto his eternal kingdom ? " " Yes, 
I have no hope but in him." " Then, sir, with your 
leave, I will put up my dagger again, for this is all 
my Calvinism ; this is my election, my justification 
by faith, my final perseverance. It is in substance 
all that I hold and as I hold it, and, therefore, if 
you please, instead of searching out terms and 
phrases to be a ground of contention between us, 
we will cordially unite in those things wherein we 

* Dr. Dealthy's Sermon on the Death of Dr. C. Simeon. 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 113 

John Wesley and Martin Madan. 

One evening a young man, educated for the bar, 
was in company in London with some gay com- 
panions at a Coffee-house. He was a great mimic. 
His young Mends requested him to go and hear 
Rev. John Wesley preach, and then return and 
exhibit his manner and discourse for their enter- 
tainment. Just as he entered the place of worship 
Mr. Wesley named as his text, " Prepare to meet 
thy God," with a solemnity of accent that struck 
him, and inspired a seriousness that increased as 
the faithful preacher proceeded. On his return he 
was asked if he had taken off the old Methodist ? 
He replied, "ivo, gentlemen ; but he has taken me 
off? From that time he withdrew from their 
company, and began to walk with the wise. He 
soon became a useful and popular minister. His 
name was Martin Madan. He possessed an inde- 
pendent fortune, and therefore did not enter the 
ministry from any mercenary views. In the Church 
he never accepted any benefice or emolument. The 
lawyer turning divine excited curiosity. He cast 
in his lot among the Methodists and itinerated to 
different parts of the kingdom. 

Mr. Madan was cousin to the poet Cowper. He 
was passionately fond of music, and a respectable 
composer. The music of 

" Before Jehovah's awful throne," 
M From all that dwell below the skies," 
" Salvation ! the joyful sound ! " 
"To God, the only wise," 

114 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

and many others which were composed by him, are 
well known and deservedly popular. Lady Hunt- 
ingdon became his patron, and threw her mantle 
over him. He was a dignified young man; of 
a tall, noble form, majestic countenance, with 
a voice of unusual sweetness and power, and 
crowds flocked at once to hear him. Youth, beauty, 
wealth, and eloquence all had a charm for the 
people. His first sermon was preached to an over- 
flowing congregation at Allhallows Church, Lon- 
don, the same in which Mr. Wesley preached his 
first extemporaneous sermon. 

John Wesley and John Nelson. 

John Nelson is one of the early heroes of Method- 
ism. When he was awakened his distress of mind 
was such that he wished he " never had been born." 
He heard Mr. Whitefield at Moorefields, and says, 
u He was to me as a man that could play well on 
an instrument, for his preaching was pleasant to 
me, and I loved the man so that if any offered to 
disturb him I was ready to fight for him ; but I did 
not understand him ; yet I got some hope of mercy, 
so I was encouraged to pray on and spend my 
leisure hours in reading the Scriptures." In this 
frame of mind he continued till Mr. Wesley preached 
for the first time in Moorfields. " O," says he, 
" that was a blessed morning for my soul ! As 
soon as he got upon the stand he stroked back his 
hair and turned his face toward where I stood 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 115 

and I thought he fixed his eyes on me. His coun- 
tenance struck such an awful dread upon me before 
I heard him speak that it made my heart beat like 
the pendulum of a clock ; and when he did speak, 
I thought his whole discourse was aimed at me." 
As soon as Mr. Wesley had finished his sermon 
Nelson said within himself, " This man can tell the 
secrets of my heart. He hath not left me there, 
for he hath shown me the remedy, even the blood 
of Jesus." He was converted and became one of 
Mr. Wesley's lay preachers. His autobiography 
reads like a tale of chivalry. 

John Wesley and Nelson's hard Bed. 

John Wesley did not always sleep on a bed of 
down. Sometimes his bed was very hard and un- 
comfortable, particularly during the early part of 
his ministry. Wesley and Nelson visited Cornwall 
before Methodism was established there. Nelson, 
in his own laconic style, gives an account of their 
lodging. "All this time," he says, "Mr. Wesley 
and I lay on the floor ; he had my great-coat for a 
pillow, and I had Burkitt's Notes on the New Tes- 
tament for mine. After being here nearly three 
weeks, one morning about three o'clock Mr. Wes- 
ley turned over, and finding me awake clapped me 
on the side, saying, " Brother Nelson, let us be of 
good cheer. I have one whole side yet, for the 
skin is off but one side." 

As they were returning Mr. Wesley stopped his 

Ii6 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

horse to pick blackberries, and said, " Brother Nel- 
son, we ought to be thankful that there are plenty 
of blackberries, for this is the best country I ever 
saw* to get an appetite, and the worst place to pro- 
vide means to satisfy it." 

John Y/esley and William BramwelL 

William Brarnwell is a name that will ever have 
a conspicuous place in the annals of Wesleyan 
Methodism. Mr. Wesley passed through Preston 
and saw young Bramwell, and inquired, as he took 
hold of his hand, M Dear brother, can you praise 
God?" " No, sir," was the answer, "Well, per- 
haps you can to-night," said Mr. Wesley, lifting up 
his hand and smiling upon the young man, who 
was a stranger to the joy of reconciliation. That 
night, while the service was proceeding, he was 
able to rejoice in God, by whom he received the 
atonement. He never after lost the joy, but was 
able to walk hi the light till glory perfected what 
grace had begun. 

John Wesley and his Traveling Companion. 

"Michael Fenwick," Wesley says, "was often 
hindered from settling in business because God had 
other work for him to do. He is just made to 
travel with me, being an excellent groom, valet-de- 
ehccmbre, nurse, and upon occasion a tolerable 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 117 

preacher." All men desire immortality. Mr. Fen- 
wick one day complained to Mr. Wesley that, 
though constantly traveling with him, his own 
name was never inserted in Wesley's published 
journals. In the next number of the Journal was 
the following : " I left Epworth," wrote Mr. Wes- 
ley, "with great satisfaction, and about one 
preached at Clayworth. I think none were un- 
moved but Michael Fenwick, who fell fast asleep 
under an adjoining hay-rick." * 

John Wesley and the Young Quaker. 

In 1740 Mr. Wesley had an interview with a 
young Quaker named Joseph Chandler, who had 
frequently spoken in the meetings. Mr. Wesley 
had never seen him, and did not know there was 
such a person. Some one had carried a formal 
challenge to him from Mr. Wesley to dispute with 
him, and afterward told Mr. Chandler that he 
heard Mr. Wesley declare in open society, " I chal- 
lenged Joseph Chandler to dispute, and he promised 
to come, but broke his word." Joseph immediately 
sent to Mr. Wesley to know from his own mouth 
if these things were so. Mr. Wesley adds: "If 
those who count themselves better Christians had 
but done like this honest Quaker, how many idle 
tales which they now believe would, like this, have 
vanished into air!" 

* Wesley an Magazine, 1843, p. 418. 

1x8 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

John Wesley and John King. 

John King was one of the early English Meth- 
odist preachers in America. He accomplished a 
vast amount of good. As a pioneer of Methodism 
in America his name should be held in grateful 
remembrance. He was imprudent in the use of 
his voice, and did not appear to know that it is 
not the thunder that does execution, but the light- 
ning, and that " bodily exercise profiteth little." 

Mr. Wesley, knowing his habits, wrote to him 
thus : " Scream no more at the peril of your soul. 
God now warns you by me, whom he hath set over 
you. Speak as earnestly as you can, but do not 
scream. Speak with all your heart, but with a 
moderate voice. It was said of our Lord, 6 He 
shall not cry.' The word means, he shall not 
scream. Herein be a follower of me as I am of 
Christ. I speak loud, often vehement, but I never 
scream ; I never strain myself. I dare not. I 
know it would be a sin against God and my own 
soul. Perhaps one reason why that good man, 
Thomas Walsh, yea, and John Manners too, were 
in such grievous darkness before they died was, 
because they shortened their own lives." 

Wesley, Boardman, and Pilmoor. 

Richard Boardman and Joseph Pilmoor were 
Mr. Wesley's first regular missionaries to America. 
At the Conference held at Leeds, August 1, 1769, 
Mr. Wesley says, " I mentioned the case of our 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 119 

brethren in ISTew York, who had built the first 
Methodist preaching-house in America, and were 
in great want of money, but much more of preach- 
ers. Two of our brethren, Richard Boardman and 
Joseph Pilmoor, willingly offered themselves for 
the service, by whom we determined to send them 
fifty pounds, as a token of brotherly love." * 

Such is the simple account which Mr. Wesley 
gives of the transaction. But an anecdote has 
lately been circulated from tradition, now inter- 
woven into grave history, that is full of romance. 
" It is usually supposed that when Mr. Wesley's 
appeal was made the response was immediate ; but 
it was otherwise. The Conference sat in silence, 
no man answering. The next morning Wesley, as 
was his custom, preached before the assembly at 
five o'clock on the text, 'I have nourished and 
brought up children, and they have rebelled 
against me.' At the reassembling of the Confei- 
ence, after the sermon, the appeal was repeated, 
and the responses deliberately and resolutely 
made." f Rev. Charles Prest makes the statement 
on the authority of Rev. J. Edmondson, who ob- 
tained it by tradition. 

Washington and Wesley. 

Martin Rodda was an English preacher in 
America during the war, and by incautiously 
* Journal, vol. iv, p. 416. 

f Stevens's History of the Methodist Episcopal Church, vol. 
i, p. 95. 

120 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

meddling with politics exposed himself to the dis- 
pleasure of those in power. At a certain time he 
was brought before General Washington, who 
asked who he was. Rodda told him he was one 
of John Wesley's preachers. "Mr. Wesley," re- 
joined his excellency, "I respect; but Mr. Wesley, 
I presume, never sent you to America to interfere 
with political matters, but to preach the Gospel to 
the people. Now go and mind your own proper 
work, and leave politics alone." 

John Wesley and the Polite Audience. 

John Wesley always preferred the middling and 
lower classes to the wealthy. He said, " If I might 
choose I should still, as I have done hitherto, 
preach the Gospel to the poor?'' Preaching in 
Monktown Church, a large, old, ruinous building, 
he says, " I suppose it has scarce had such a con- 
gregation during this century. Many of them 
were gay, genteel people, so I spoke on the first 
elements of the Gospel ; but I was still out of their 
depth." O how hard it is to be shallow enough 
for a polite audience ! " 

John Wesley and his Sister Emilia. 

Emilia was John's oldest sister, and some years 
his senior. She was well educated, and was distin- 
guished for personal beauty and mental and moral 
excellence. Her wit was of the keenest order. 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 


She loved her brother John with peculiar affec- 
tion. He declared she was the best reader of Mil- 
ton he had ever heard. Such was their intimacy 
that she took great liberty in approving or disap- 
proving of his acts. In the early days of Method- 
ism she became much prejudiced against them, and 
she wrote to him in a very unpleasant tone, abus- 
ing the Methodists. She told him she under- 
stood he could work miracles, cast out devils, etc. ; 
that she had the devil of poverty in her pocket, 
and would be much obliged to him if he would 
cast it out. Mr. esley kept on with his heaven- 
approved work, unmoved by the abuse of friends 
or the opposition of enemies. 

The reader can see the change there was in her 
mind, and the high regard she had for John, by 
reading the following lines, which she wrote under 
a portrait of John Wesley : 

" His eyes diffuse a venerable grace. 

And charity itself is in his face. 

Humble and meek, learned, pious, prudent, just, 

Of good report, and faithful to his trust ; 

Vigilant, sober, watchful of his charge, 

"Who feeds his sheep, and cloth their folds enlarge." 

John Wesley, John Hampson, and the Mob. 

In Norwich, in the early days of Methodism, the 
preachers scarcely ever got through the service of 
a Sabbath evening without having more or less 
disturbance or a mob at the chapel doors. 

122 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

Mr. Wesley visited Norwich in company with 
John Hanipson, a preacher of gigantic make and 
muscular powers, but not wanting in strength or 
grandeur of mind. When Mr. Wesley had fin- 
ished his sermon, and was leaving the chapel, he 
found the street crowded with a mob, who were 
waiting to do him some violence. As they closed 
in upon him Mr. Hanipson stepped forward and 
fronted them in the attitude of threatening. Mr. 
Wesley, fearing that he would really attack them, 
called out to him to refrain, upon which Mr. Hanip- 
son replied in a thundering voice, 44 Let me alone, 
sir; if God has not given you an arm to quell this 
mob he has given me one, and the first man who 
molests you here I will lay him dead." 

The boldness of his manner and the loud tones 
of his voice paralyzed the mob. Not the least vio- 
lence was offered, and Mr. Wesley and his cou- 
rageous friend passed on unmolested. 

John Wesley and the Young Preacher. 

Mr. Wesley was very regular in hie hours of sleep. 
Rev. W. M. Punshon related to me the following : 
" Mr. Wesley was in a place where many of the 
ministers were gathered, and there were not beds 
enough for all unless two slept together, so a 
young preacher was designated to sleep with Mr. 
Wesley. He was full of joy, thinking what a fine 
opportunity he would have to get light on several 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 123 

theological subjects. After they had retired he 
asked Mti Wesley several questions. To his sur- 
prise and mortiiication Mr. Wesley, instead of an- 
swering them, said, 4 Brother, I came to bed to 
sleep.' " 

John Wesley and the Renowned Pugilist. 

Nearly a century has passed away since John 
Wesley preached for the first time upon Cole-Gr- 
ton-Moor. He had been invited there by some 
who were the first-fruits of Walter Sellon's minis- 
try. The intended visit of Mr. Wesley was noised 
abroad, and a neighboring squire, whose influence 
over the colliers vras great, resolved, if possible, to 
hinder the preaching. He gave the men a treat, 
with a liberal allowance of liquor, and, armed with 
formidable truncheons, these guardians of ortho- 
doxy repaired to the spot where the open-air serv- 
ice was to be held. The appointment of com- 
mander-in-chief fell upon James Massey, an ath- 
letic fellow, of stalwart frame, and great mus- 
cular power. He was, in fact, the terror of the 
whole neighborhood, a renowned pugilist, and a 
disturber of every wake and fair in that section. 
Another man, like-minded, was second in com- 
mand. The squire's forces were mustered accord- 
ing to a plan previously arranged : one leader, 
with his band, to be on the right, the other on the 
left of Mr. Wesley. The preacher was punctual 
in fulfilling his engagement, and a large congrega- 

124 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

tion was present. He opened with the customary 
devotions, and as he was about to commence the 
sermon Massey looked upon him savagely and 
menacingly, hut thought he would just hear a 
little of what he had to say. As John Nelson 
says, speaking of the first time he heard Mr. Wes- 
ley preach in the open air at Moorfields, " When 
he did speak I thought his whole discourse was 
aimed at me," so it was with John Massey. The 
persecutor's heart began to beat violently, and an 
arrow of conviction shot from the bow of truth, 
and guided in its flight by the Spirit of God, found 
lodgment there. Tears of penitence rolled down 
his cheeks in rapid succession. During this in- 
terim the colliers became impatient, and one man 
cried out, " John, why dunna ye gi' the word o' 
command ? " When he firmly replied in like 
dialect, " If ony mon touches the preacher I'll 
recon wi' him to-morro' marnin' up oth pit-bonk." 
After this the service closed in peace. The mouths 
of the lions were closed. Massey went home a 
true penitent, and from that day the devil lost in 
him an active champion. He sought the Lord 
with his whole heart, and soon obtained a sense of 
the divine favor, and became in the most emphatic 
sense another man, and was for many years a very 
useful Local Preacher. After years of usefulness 
he died in holy triumph, and was buried in a grave- 
yard near the spot where he first trembled under 
the awakening power of truth as preached by the 
founder of Methodism.* 

* Wesleyan Magazine. 185 6. vol. i, p. 140. 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 125 

Rev. John Fletcher used to visit the place and 
preach for Walter Sellon. During one of his visits 
it was announced he would give an evening lecture 
at Mr, Hall's, a distinguished Methodist ; but by 
some unforeseen circumstances he was detained 
elsewhere beyond the time appointed. The house 
was thronged, and there was quite a disappoint- 
ment at the non-arrival of Mr. Fletcher. Under 
these cii-cumstances John Massey was requested 
to occupy the place of the seraphic Fletcher. 
Great as was the cross, John Massey took it 
up, and delivered an appropriate and powerful 
discourse. Soon Mr. Fletcher came in unper- 
ceived by John, and sat down quietly behind 
a piece of furniture, and listened with great 
attention to his plain and faithful message. At 
the close of the service Mr. Fletcher warmly shook 
John by the hand, and thanked him for his " ex- 
cellent exhortation." 

The Profane Officer. 

John Wesley was traveling in a stage-coach with 
a young officer who was exceedingly profane, and 
who swore curses upon himself in almost every 
sentence. Mr. Wesley asked him if he had read 
the Common Prayer Book ; for if he had he might 
remember the Collect beginning, " O God, who art 
more ready to hear than we are to pray, and art 
wont to give more than either we desire or de- 
serve." The young man, who had contracted a 

126 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

very common, but vulgar habit of profanity, had 
the good sense to make the application and swear 
no more during the journey. 

Ingenious Reproof. 

On one occasion when John Wesley was traveling- 
he had for a fellow-passenger in the coach an officer 
who was intelligent, and very agreeable in conversa- 
tion ; but there was one very serious drawback — his 
profanity. When they changed coaches Mr. Wes- 
ley took the officer aside, and after expressing 
the pleasure he had enjoyed in his company, said 
he had a great favor to ask of him. The young 
officer said, " I will take great pleasure in obliging 
you, for I am sure you will not make an unreason- 
able request." a Then," said Mr. Wesley, " as we 
have to travel together some distance, I beg, if 
I should so far forget myself as to swear, you will 
kindly reprove me." The officer immediately saw 
the motive and felt the force of the request, and 
smiling, said, " None but Mr. Wesley could have 
conceived a reproof in such a manner." The re- 
proof acted like a charm. 

John Wesley and the Old Servant. 

Mr. Wesley, in June, 1743, visited Ep worth, his 
native place, where his father had been Rector for 
many years. He thought his former acquaintance 
would be ashamed to acknowledge him, so he put 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 


up at an inn in the center of the town. But an 
old servant of his father, with two or three poor 
women, heard that he was in town and called on 
him. Mr. Wesley inquired of the old servant of 
the family if she knew of any in Epworth who were 
in earnest to be saved. She answered, u I am, by 
the grace of God, and I know I am saved through 
faith. 5 ' He then inquired, "Have you, then, the 
peace of God ? Do you know that he has for- 
given your sins?" She replied, "I thank God 
I know it well, and many here can say the same 
thing." This was a matter of rejoicing to Mr. 
Wesley to find an old servant of his father a servant 
of God, and in possession of the knowledge of sins 

John Wesley and the Curate Romley. 

John Romley studied divinity under Samuel 
Wesley, senior, graduated at Lincoln College, Ox- 
ford, and became his Curate. He owed all he 
was to the father of John Wesley, even his very 
position as Curate at Epworth. But he forgot his 
obligation to the family. On a Sunday in June, 
1742, a little before the service began, John Wes- 
ley went to Mr. Romley and offered to assist him, 
either by preaching or reading prayers. But he de- 
clined to accept the offer, and preferred doing his 
own work. 

It had been noised abroad that Mr. Wesley 
would preach in the afternoon, and the house was 
full. Mr. Romley did not ask Mr. Wesley to assist, 


Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

but preached from " Quench not the Spirit." He 
said one of the most dangerous ways of quenching 
the Spirit was by enthusiasm, and enlarged with 
great zeal and energy on the character of an 
enthusiast. The audience all knew he meant John 
Wesley and the Methodists. 

As the people were retiring from church, John 
Taylor, an excellent man, who then accompanied 
Mr. Wesley, stood in the church-yard, and gave 
notice as they were coming out, " Mr. Wesley not 
being permitted to preach in the church, designs to 
preach here at six o'clock." At six Mr. Wesley 
stood near the east end of the church upon his 
fathers tomb-stone, and preached to such an 
audience as Epworth never saw before from "the 
kingdom of heaven is not meat and drink, but 
righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy 
Ghost." Never was there a more impressive scene. 
There, among the tombs, standing over the ashes 
of his sainted father, he preached to them of life 
and death, heaven and hell. The effect was over- 

In January, 1743, Mr. Wesley revisited Epworth, 
and again preached standing on his father's tomb. 
It was sacrament Sunday. Mr. Rornley said to 
one, "Pray tell Mr. Wesley I shall not give Mm 
the sacrament, for he is not fit." Mr. Wesley says, 
" There could not have been so fit a place under 
heaven where this should befall me first as my 
father's house, the place of my nativity, and the 
very place where, according to the strictest sect of 
our religion, I had so long lived a Pharisee. It 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 129 

was also fit in the highest degree that he who re- 
pelled me from that very table where I had so 
often distributed the bread of life should be one 
who owed his all in this world to the tender- love 
my father bore to his as well as personally to 

3Ir. Romley a few years after lost his voice, 
became a drunkard, then a lunatic, and in this sad 
state he died. 

The Tomb-Stone Sermon. 

No wonder Mr. "Wesley had fruit from the first 
sermon he preached on his father's tomb-stone. 
One of his hearers on that occasion was a gentle- 
man who boasted that he had not been to church 
in thirty years. The church-yard scene — a man 
preaching in the midst of graves, and over the dust 
of his father — led him to attend and hear Mr. Wes- 
ley. The word was a hammer to break his flinty 
heart in pieces ; and when the sermon was ended 
the gentleman stood as if he was transfixed, look- 
ing up to heaven. Mr. Wesley inquired of him, 
ct Are you a sinner ? " With a tearful eye, quiver- 
ing lip, and faltering voice he answered, " Sinner 
enough! 5 ' and he remained looking up till his 
friends thrust him into his carriage and hurried 
him home. Ten years after Mr. Wesley saw him, 
and was agreeably surprised to find him strong in 
faith, giving glory to God, and though feeble in 
body, patiently waiting the hour of his departure. 


Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

John Wesley and Dr. Priestley. 

Jolin Wesley's father wished him to he his suc- 
cessor at Epworth, but he declined to apply for the 
living, believing he could be far more useful as he 
was. Dr. Joseph Priestley said in regard to it : 
"Mi'. Wesley wanted only rational principles of 
religion to be one of the first of human characters.' 5 
Henry Moore well says, " Had Mr. Wesley only 
what Dr. Priestley calls rationed principles of re- 
ligion he might have gone the usual rounds of 
parochial duty at Epworth, and, it may be, suc- 
ceeded to what is termed a better living. But 
however he might in that case have been admired 
as a scholar and a man, he certainly never would 
have ranked with reformers or apostles; nor would 
the present, not to say future, generations rise up 
and call him blessed." 

John Wesley and Bishop Lavington. 

Bishop Lavington wrote a scurrilous book en- 
titled "Enthusiasm of the Methodists and Papists 
Compared." His pamphlet was anonymous. It was 
stabbing in the dark. He acted on this principle, 
" Strike, but conceal the hand.*' Mr. Wesley dis- 
covered the author and replied to him. In so doing 
he showed himself a master workman, and that lit- 
was set for the defense of the Gospel. His lively 
wit and keen logic is admirably used against his 
episcopal opponent. Lavington replied, saying, 
"Wit, not truth, is your object.*' Mr. Wesley 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. * 131 

knew not only how to write to his enemies in love, 
but to "answer a fool according to his folly." In 
his Journal of Xoveinber 19, 1751, Mr. Wesley 
says, " I began to write a letter to the ' Comparer 
of Papists and Methodists' — heavy work — such as 
I never choose, but sometimes it must be done. 
Well might the ancients say, 1 God made practical 
divinity necessary; the devil controversial.'" 

John Wesley and Bishop Warburton. 

Bishop Warburton made an attack upon John 
Weslev, ill which he forgot he was writing to a 
scholar, a gentleman, a Christian, and a Christian 
rninister. He forgets his dignity and descends to 
personal abuse. He calls Mr. Wesley hard names. 
Comparing him with the early preachers, he calls 
him "this paltry mimic." Mr. Wesley, true to his 
principles, did not forget that he was writing to a 
dignitary of the Church, and in his reply said, 
" Surely a writer should reverence himself, how 
much soever he may despise his opponent." Mr. 
Wesley had a forgiving spirit. He afterward com- 
muned with Bishop Warburton, and said " he ex- 
pected to meet him in heaven," 

John Wesley and Beau Nash. 

At Bath a notable man named Beau Xash, 
then " lord of the ascendant " in that city, encoun- 
tered Mr. Wesley in order to amuse the people, con- 

132 1 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

found the preacher, and render Methodism ridicu- 
lous. The public were informed what was to be done 
and great expectations were raised, so the audience 
was greatly increased, and among them many of 
the rich and fashionable. Mr. Wesley addressed 
himself to all classes, from the highest to the lowest. 
While he was preaching Beau Nash entered the 
room, came close to the preacher, and demanded of 
him by what authority he was acting. Wesley 
replied, " By that of Jesus Christ, conveyed to me 
by the present Archbishop of Canterbury when he 
laid his hands upon me and said, ' Take thou author- 
ity to preach the Gospel. 5 " Nash ther^ affirmed 
he was acting contrary to the laws. " Besides,* 5 
said he, " your preaching frightens people out of 
their wits." c< Sir," replied Mr. Wesley, " did you 
ever hear me preach ? " " No," said the master of 
ceremonies. " How, then," said Mr. Wesley, " can 
you judge of what you never heard ? " Nash made 
answer, "By common report." "Sir," said Mr. 
Wesley, " is not your name Nash ? I dare not 
judge you by common report. I think it not 
enough to judge by." 

Nash: quailed under Mr. Wesley's ironical reply. 
Soon, however, he recovered, and said, " I desire to 
know what these people come here for ? " " Sir, 
leave him to me," said one; "let an old woman 
answer him. You, Mr. Nash, take care of your 
body ; we take care of our souls, and for the food 
of our souls have we come here." Mr. Nash could 
endure it no longer and he beat a hasty retreat, no 
doubt acting on the principle that, 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


" Ho that fights and runs away 
May live to fight another day ; 
But he that is in battle slain 
Will never live to fight again." * 

John Wesley and the Ladies of Bath. 

Curiosity is a strong passion. As Mr. Wesley 
was returning from preaching at Bath immediately 
after his interview with Beau Nash, the streets 
were full of people hurrying to and fro, full of 
curiosity to see the man who was causing such 
excitement. Whenever they inquired, " Which is 
he?" Mr. Wesley would reply, "I am he," and 
silence followed. Several ladies followed him into 
Mr. Merchant's house, where he was entertained. 
Mr. Wesley retired into his room, when the servant 
said to him, " Mr. Wesley, there are several ladies 
in the other room who wish to speak with you." 
He immediately went out into the room where they 
were, and the ladies gazed upon him as if he was a 
supernatural being. He saw at once that curiosity 
had brought them there, and he said, "Ladies, 
I believe the maid was mistaken; she said you 
desired to speak with me, but you only wanted to 
look at meP ■ 

Sharp Comment. 

Mr. Wesley was, sent for several times in 1750 
to see a young woman in Bedlam. He went, and 
* Southey's Life of Wesley, vol. i, p. 36G. 

134 Anecdotes of the Weskys. 

had not conversed with her long before one dressed 
in a little brief authority informed hirn abruptly 
that none of these preachers were to come there. 
A short time before he had been prohibited from 
talking with the prisoners in Newgate. He made 
the following comment : " So we are forbid to go 
to Newgate for fear of making them wicked, and 
to Bedlam for fear of driving them madP 

John Wesley and the Subdued Mob. 

John TTesley was never more calm and fearless 
than in the hour of danger. He was preaching at 
a certain time when the mob, maddened with fury, 
tore up the floor, while others on the outside pulled 
out the windows and doors of the house. Mr. 
"Wesley walked out, looked them full in the face, 
and fixed his piercing eye upon them, when the mass 
of the people parted asunder, so that a broad way 
was made for him, and he passed through his ene- 
mies unharmed. Then he wrote the hymn com- 
mencing, " Ye simple souls that stray," in which is 
found the following stanza : 

" Angels our servants are, 

And keep us in our ways ; 
And in their watchful hands they bear 

The sacred sons of grace." 

John Wesley and Doctor Gibson. 

In 1740 John TTesley had a conversation with 
Dr. Gibson, then Bishop of London, at Whitehall 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 135 

The Bishop inquired of Mr. Wesley what he 
meant by perfection. He told him without any 
disguise or reserve. When he had made the ex- 
planation it was so perfectly satisfactory to the 
Bishop he said, u Mr. Wesley, if this be all you 
mean publish it to all the world. If any can con- 
fute what you say he may have free leave." Mr. 
Wesley answered, " My lord, I will ;" and accord- 
ingly wrote and published the sennon on Chris- 
tian Perfection. 


John Wesley and the Plain Man. 

John Wesley once asked a plain man " Ought 
not he who feeds the rlock to eat the milk of the 
flock?" He answered, " Friend, I have no objec- 
tion to that. But what is that to him that does 
not feed the flock ? He stands on the far side of 
the hedge and feeds himself; it is another who 
feeds the flock. And ought he to have the milk 
of the flock ? What canst thou say for him ? 
Truly nothing at all. And he will have nothing 
to say for himself when the great Shepherd shall 
pronounce that just sentence : ' Bind the unprofit- 
able servant hand and foot, and cast him into 
outer darkness.' " 

John Wesley and Mr. Bailey. 

The Rev. Mr. Bailey, of Cork, in 1750 wrote a 
severe letter to Mr. Wesley, which was printed 
and widely circulated. He brings many severe 


136 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

charges against Mr. Wesley, among others love of 
profit and honor. Mr. Wesley replied in a mas- 
terly manner, showing his irony and sparkling wit 
to great advantage. He says : " But 6 the honor I 
gain,' yon think, 6 is even greater than the profit.' 
Alas, sir, I have not generosity enough to relish it, 
and especially while there are so many drawbacks, 
so many dead flies in the pot of ointment. Sheer 
honor might taste tolerably well, but there is 
gall with the honey, and less of the honey than 
gall. Pray, sir, what think you ? Have I more 
honor or dishonor? Do more people praise or 
blame me ? How is it in Cork, among your own 
circle of acquaintance ? Where you hear one com- 
mend do you not hear ten cry out, 'Away with 
such a fellow from the earth ? ' Above all, I do 
not love honor with dry blows. I do not find it 
will cure broken bones. But perhaps you may 
think I glory in these. O how should I have glo- 
ried, then, if your good friends at Dantsbridge had 
burned my person instead of my effigy ? We are 
here to set religion out of the question. You do 
not suppose I have any thing to do with that ? 
Why, if so, I would rather leave you the honor, 
and myself sleep in a whole skin." 

John Wesley and the Mayor of Cork. 

John Wesley preached in May, 1750, in the 
suburbs of Cork. In the afternoon two of the 
preachers went to the Mayor and asked if it 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 137 

would be disagreeable to him if Mr. Wesley 
preached on the Marsh ? He answered, " Sir, I 
will have no more mobs and riots." One of them 
replied, " Sir, Mr. "Wesley has made none." The 
Mayor then said, " Sir, I will have no more preaching, 
and if Mr. Wesley attempts it I am prepared for 
him." Mr. Wesley did not preach on the Marsh, 
but in the Methodist house of worship. He says, 
" The good Mayor in the mean time was walking 
on the 4 'Change,' and gave orders to his sergeants 
and town-drummers, who immediately came down 
to the house with an innumerable mob attending 
him. When Mr. AYesley came out from the chapel 
the mob pressed very closely upon him. Mr. Wes- 
ley saw one of the King's sergeants standing near 
him, and he desired him to keep the King's peace. 
But he replied, " Sir, I have no orders to do that." 
Mr. Wesley then began to see there was real mean- 
ing in what a gentleman said, who, being told 
" King George tolerates Methodists," replied, " Sir, 
you shall find the Mayor is King of Cork." 


John Wesley and the Irish Justice of the Peace. 

John Wesley arrived in a certain town in Ire- 
land, and a worthy Justice of the Peace was de- 
termined he should not preach there. He was 
slow in mustering his mob, and when he arrived 
Mr. Wesley had finished his sermon. The Justice 
came blustering up to him, and said in a tone of 
magisterial authority, " Sir, you shall not preach 

138 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

in this town." Mr. Wesley said, " Sir, I do not in- 
tend to preach here again to-day. I have already 
preached, and am just leaving." On learning that 
the dignified Justice flew into a terrible passion, 
and could hardly contain himself. He was, how- 
ever, too much of a coward to attack Mr. Wesley ; 
but seeing his hat on the table, he wreaked his 
vengeance on that, kicking and cuffing it most 

John Wesley and the Rabble. 

Mr. Wesley had just commenced preaching on a 
beautiful green near Pensford, when a mob of 
fellows hired for the purpose came upon the au- 
dience with fury, driving a bull among the people. 
The animal was wiser than his drivers, and contin- 
ually ran to one side of the congregation or the 
other while they quietly sang praises to God, and 
prayed for about an hour. The poor wretches, 
finding themselves disappointed, at length seized 
upon the bull, weak and tired after having been so 
long torn by dogs and beaten by men, and by 
main strength partly dragged and partly thrust 
him in among the people. When they had forced 
their way to the little table on which Mr. Wesley 
stood they strove several times to throw it down 
by thrusting the helpless beast against it, who of 
himself stirred no more than a log of wood. Mr. 
Wesley turned aside the head of the bull with his 
hand that the blood might not drop upon his 
clothes, intending to go on with his discourse, 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


The table fell down, and some of his friends caught 
Mr. Wesley in their arms and carried him away on 
their shoulders, while the rabble wreaked their 
vengeance on the table by tearing it to pieces. 
Mr. Wesley went a little way off and finished his 
sermon without any noise or interruption, so these 
sons of Belial had all their trouble for nothing. 

John Wesley, the Persecuted Methodists, and the 

John Wesley and his coadjutors endured a great 
fight of affliction. The people roared like lions. 
The storm of persecution rose higher and higher 
till deliverance came in a way none expected. Mr. 
Wesley says : " God stirred up the heart of our 
late gracious sovereign to give such orders to his 
magistrates as, being put in execution, effectually 
quelled the madness of the people. It was about 
the same time that a great man applied personally 
to his Majesty, begging that he would please 4 take 
a course to stop these run-about preachers.' His 
Majesty, looking sternly upon him, answered with- 
out ceremony, like a King, "I tell you while I sit 
on the throne no man shall be persecuted for con- 
science 5 sake." * 

Whitefield's Mission to America. 

John Wesley while in Georgia wrote several 
letters to George Whitefield, urging him to come 
* Wesley's Sermons, vol. ii. p. 393. 

140 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

to America. In one of them he inquired, " Do you 
ask what you shall have ? Food to eat, raiment 
to wear, a house to lay your head in, such as your 
Lord had not, and a crown of glory that fadeth 
not away." Whitefield said, " His heart leaped 
within him, and echoed to the call." He did come 
to America, and wonders were produced by his 
preaching, and. after having crossed the Atlantic 
many times, here he died and was buried. Had 
it not been for John Wesley's urgent call White- 
field might never have come to this new world. 

Field Preaching. 

Whitefield first set the example of field preach- 
ing. Soon after he began Mr. Wesley accompa- 
nied him to Blackheath to hear Whitefield preach 
to the masses. Fourteen thousand people had as- 
sembled. Whitefield urged Wesley to preach to 
them the word of life. At first he declined, at last 
reluctantly consented. From that day an effectual 
door was open for him to teach the multitudes. 
Whitefield rejoiced in his success, and wrote thus : 
" I went to bed rejoicing that another fresh inroad 
was made into Satan's territories by Mr. Wesley 
following me in field preaching in London as well 
as in Bristol." 

Long after Wesley wrote, " Forty years ago I 
began preaching in the fields, and that for two 
reasons : first, I was not suffered to preach in the 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 141 

churclies ; second, no parish church could contain 
the congregations." 

The Surreptitious Letter. 

John Wesley was the soul of honor, as the fol- 
lowing will show : 

George Whitefield, some time after his separa- 
tion from Mr. Wesley, wrote him a letter on the 
subject of Calvinism. In it he assumed a superi- 
ority over Mr. Wesley that was no credit to hiin. 
Whitefield's friends in London having obtained a 
copy of this letter, had it printed without White- 
field or Wesley's permission, and distributed a 
number of copies at the door of .the Foundry, and 
also in the meeting. Mr. Wesley took one of the 
letters in his hands into the pulpit, and having 
stated to the congregation the fact of its surrep- 
titious publication, he said, " I will do just what I 
believe Mr. Whitefield would do if he were here 
himself ;*' and then he tore it to pieces. Every 
one in the house having a copy of the letter, fol- 
lowed Mr. Wesley's example, and the letters were 
in a moment torn into fragments. In reference to 
the person by whom the letter had been published 
Mr. Wesley says, c< Ah, poor Ahithophel!" 

Wesley 5 Pool, and Whitefield. 

Adam Clarke and John Pool traveled the same 
circuit, and Mr. Pool, who was intimately ac- 

142 Anecdotes of the Wesley s, 

quainted with Whitefield, related the following 
anecdote : " Whitefield one day met Pool, and ac- 
costed him thus : c Well, John, are you still a 
Wesleyan ? ' fi Yes, sir, and I thank God that I 
have the privilege of being in connection with Mr. 
Wesley, and one of his preachers.' ' John, thou 
art in the right place ; my Brother Wesley acted 
wisely. The souls that were awakened under his 
ministry he joined in class, and thus preserved the 
fruits of his labor. This I neglected, and my peo- 
ple are a rope of sand.' " How T true to the letter, 
the work of one almost obliterated, that of the 
other extending with each succeeding age. 

John Wesley and Whitefield's Will. 

They became divided in sentiment, Wesley an 
Arminian, and Whitefield a Calvinist. Notwith- 
standing the theological difference between them, 
they were united as by hooks of steel, and loved 
one another as brethren. 

In Mr. Whitefield's last will and testament, 
written with his own hand about six months before 
he died, he says : " I leave a mourning ring to my 
honored and dear friends and disinterested fellow- 
laborers, the Rev. John and Charles Wesley, in 
token of my indissoluble union with them in heart 
and affection, notwithstanding our difference in 
judgment about some particular points of doc- 

Mr. Keen, one of the executors, inquired of Mi\ 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


Whitefield, " If you should die abroad, whom shall 
we get to preach your funeral sermon ? Must it 
be your old friend John Wesley?" Mr. White- 
field replied, " He is the man." When the news 
of Mr. Whitefield's death reached London Mr. 
Keen waited on Mr. Wesley and engaged him to 
preach it. Mr. Wesley complied with the request, 
and in his sermon he bore ample testimony to the 
undissembled piety, the ardent zeal, and extensive 
usefulness of his much-loved and honored friend. 

Whitefield and the Uncharitable Minister. 

The following anecdote will show the views of 
Mr. Whitefield concerning John Wesley : " A min- 
ister was in company with Mr. Whitefield, and 
during the interview he was very free in his re- 
flections on Mr. Wesley and his followers. Finally 
he expressed a doubt concerning Mr. Wesley's sal- 
vation, and said to Mr. Whitefield, c Sir, do you 
think when we get to heaven we shall see John 
Wesley V 4 No, sir,' replied Mr. Whitefield, ' I 
fear not, for he will be so near the eternal throne, 
and we shall be at such a distance, we shall hardly 
get a sight of him.' " 

John Wesley and the Young Critic. 

In 1744 Mr. Wesley was riding near London 
when a young gentleman overtook him on the 
road, and asked him "if he had seen Whitefield's 

144 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

Journals." He replied he had. " And what do 
you think of them ? " said he. " Don't you think 
they are cant, enthusiasm from end to end ? I 
think so." Mr. Wesley inquired, " Why do you 
think so ? " He replied, " Why he talks so much 
of joy and stuff, and inward feelings. As I hope 
to be saved, I cannot tell what to make of it." 
Mr. Wesley asked, " Did you ever feel the love of 
God in your heart ? If not, how should you tell 
what to make of it ? Whatever is spoken of the 
religion of the heart, and of the inward workings 
of the Spirit of God, must appear enthusiasm to 
those who have not felt them ; that is, if they take 
upon them to judge of the things of which they own 
they know nothing." 

John Wesley and Mr. Whitelamb. 

John Whitelamb, a clergyman of the Church of 
England, was a brother-in-law of Mr. Wesley, 
having married his sister Mary, who had a face 
exquisitely beautiful. He had also been his pupil 
at the University. In a conversation with Mr. 
Wesley he lamented that he and his brother should 
encourage the common people to look for pardon 
and the blessings that flow from justification. 
" With you, dear sir, and your brother Charles 
and others," said he, " who are learned, there may 
be a reality in their profession, but who can help 
fearing that with these uneducated men it is absurd- 
ity and a delusion." John Wesley justified their 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


course. He knew that u common salvation' 5 was 
offered to our common race, and that the " common 
people had heard the Saviour gladly," and that it is 
the crowning glory and the transcendent excellency 
of Christianity that " the poor have the Gospel 
preached unto them." The Wesleys were a great 
blessing to the common people in their day. Meth- 
odism, while adapted to all classes, from the highest 
to the lowest, and to every order of mind, has 
accomplished wonders for the common people. 

The Slanderer. 

Many were the slanders circulated against 
John Wesley, and among others that he had at- 
tempted to commit suicide. In 1741 he was 
preaching in Bristol on Trusting in the Lord, and 
showing what reasons Christians had for trusting 
in the Captain of their salvation, when suddenly 
one of his auditors cried out, " Who was your cap- 
tain the other day, when you hanged yourself ? I 
know the man who saw you when you were cut- 
down.*' Mr. Wesley adds, " This wise story, it 
seems, had been diligently spread abroad, and cor- 
dially believed by many in Bristol. I desired the 
audience to make room for the man to come 
nearer, but the moment he saw the way open he 
ran away with all possible speed." How true is it 
that " the wicked rlee when no man pursueth," 
while, in a good cause, " the righteous are bold 
as a lion." 



Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

John Wesley and the Slandering Woman. 

Dr. Campbell, in the " British Standard," gives 
the following anecdote, saying, " We vouch for its 
truth, as far as evidence can sustain any thing. The 
ever-to-be-remembered Wesley, when preaching one 
evening to a crowd in Dublin, said, £ All crimes have 
been laid to my charge of which a human being is 
capable, except that of drunkenness.' The great 
man, having uttered these words, paused, and in a 
twinkling a short, squat damsel, with somewhat 
tattered garments, and a red plaid wrapped around 
her head, started, and, at the top of her voice, 
screamed, c You old villain ! and will you deny it ? 

Didn't you pledge your bands to Mrs. for a 

noggin of whisky, and didn't she sell them to our 
parson's wife ? ' Having stated her case, she sat 
down amid a thunderstruck assembly. Mr. 
Wesley, unmoved, merely 'thanked God that his 
cup was now full.' " 

John Wesley and the Ostler. 

Peter Martin was born in 1742. He was sexton 
of the parish of Helstone sixty-five years. He lived 
to be near a hundred years, and had a distinct re- 
collection of John Wesley, and gives an account 
of a perilous adventure he had with him. The sim- 
plicity of the narrative gives it additional interest, 
and therefore we give it in his own language. The 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 


scene occurred on one of Mr. Wesley's early visits 
to Cornwall. 

" I first heard Mr. Wesley preach in the street, 
near our Market-house, seventy-four years ago. 
I had an adventure with him when I was ostler at 
the London Inn. Mr. Wesley came there one day 
in a carriage, driven "by his own servant, who, being 
unacquainted with the road further westward than 
Redwith, he obtained my master's leave for me to 
drive him to St. Ives. We set out, and on our ar- 
rival at Hayle we found the sands between that and 
St. Ives, over which we had to pass, overflowed by 
the rising tide. On reaching; the water's edse 
I hesitated to proceed, and advised him of the 
danger of crossing ; and a captain of a vessel seeing 
us stopping, came up and endeavored to persuade 
us from an undertaking so full of peril, but without 
effect. Mr. Wesley had resolved to go on ; he said 
he had to preach at St. Ives at a certain hour, and 
that he must fulfill his appointment. Looking 
out of the carriage-window he called loudly to me, 
c Take the sea ! take the sea ! ' In a moment I 
dashed into the waves, and was quickly involved in 
a world of waters. The horses were now swimming, 
and the carriage became overwhelmed with the tide, 
as the hind wheels were not unfrequently merged 
in the deep pits and hollows in the sands. I strug- 
gled hard to maintain my seat in the saddle, while 
the poor affrighted animals were snorting and rear- 
ing in the most terrific manner. I expected every 
moment to be swept into eternity, and the only 
hope I then cherished was on account of driving so 

148 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

holy a man. At that awful crisis I heard Mr. 
Wesley's voice. With difficulty I turned my head 
toward the carriage, and saw his long white locks 
dripping with water, which ran down the rugged fur- 
rows of his venerable countenance. He was looking 
calmly forth from the windows, undisturbed by the 
tumultuous war of the surrounding waters, or by 
the dangers of his perilous situation. He hailed me 
in a tolerably loud voice, and asked, ' What is thy 
name, driver ? ' I answered, ' Peter, sir.' He said, 
' Peter, fear not, thou shalt not sink. 5 With vigor- 
ous spurring and whipping I again urged on the 
flagging horses, and at last got safely over ; but it 
was a miracle. We continued our way, and reached 
St. Ives without further hinderance. We were very 
wet, of course, Mr. Wesley's first care after our 
arrival was to see me comfortably lodged in a 
public-house; he procured me warm clothing, a 
good fire, and excellent refreshment. Neither were 
the horses forgotten. Totally unmindful of him- 
self he proceeded, wet as he was, to the chapel, and 
preached according to his appointment." 


Kingswood SchooL 

Kingswood was formerly a royal chase, and there- 
fore its name. Its forests had fallen, coal-mines 
were beneath, and the place was inhabited by 
colliers who were noted for their wickedness. 
Kingswood was three or four miles from Bristol, 
and is classic ground in Methodism. There 

Anecdotes of the WesleyS. 


Mr. Whitefield preached his first sermon in the 
fields, and there John Wesley followed his example. 

Kingswood School was early established, the cor- 
ner-stone being laid by Whitefield ; but it soon 
became John Wesley's school, and he had to sup- 
port it. It accomplished a vast amount of good, 
and afterward became a school for the sons of 
the prophets. Many of the preachers were con- 
verted there, and look back to Kingswood not 
only as their Alma Mater, but as their spiritual 
birthplace. On a pane of glass is written by some 
unknown hand these beautiful words, " God is love.'' 
On another pane, " God is here. 1744." 

Mr. Wesley used to call Kingswood his sweet 
retreat.*' In the school-house was Mr. Wesley's 
study, where many of his sermons, unsurpassed for 
purity of doctrine and beauty of language, and 
many of his scientific works and pamphlets, were 
written ; and in that study he began the compila- 
tion of his Christian Library^ which afterwards 
swelled to fifty volumes. 

Wesley's first Sermon in the Fields. 

John Wesley understood adaptation as well as 
any other man, and this is the great secret of 
successful preaching. He visited Kingswood to 
preach. The rain was descending in torrents as he 
stood under a sycamore-tree, and preached to listen- 
ing crowds from this singularly appropriate text : 
" For as the rain cometh down and the snow from 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

heaven and returneth not thither, but watereth the 
earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud that it 
may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater," 
etc. This was his first sermon in the fields. 


Watch-nights are a permanent institution among 
the Methodists. In the chapel at Kingswood they 
were first established. The custom originated with 
the Methodist colliers of Kingswood, who had been 
in the habit of spending every Saturday night at 
the ale-house. They devoted that night to prayer 
and singing of hymns. Mr. Wesley hearing of 
the watch-nights at Kingswood, and the good they 
were accomplishing, resolved to make them general. 

The Sun-Dial. 

In the garden at Kingswood is a sun-dial, placed 
there by John Wesley. On it are the appropriate 
mottoes, " Carpe Diem" and "Resurgani." Xo 
man knew the value of time better than John Wes- 
ley, and he wished to impress it upon others. This 
dial has preached impressively to several genera- 
tions. It has watched the suns of a century dawn 
and darken. It suggests a multitude of thoughts ; 
among others the necessity of preparing for that 
city where the " sun will no more go down, nor the 
moon withdraw herself." 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 151 

John Wesley and the Benevolent Lady. 

Money always came when Mr. Wesley needed 
it. Some Quaker would dream, as in the case of 
the Orphan House, or some one would strangely 
furnish the funds. 

Mr. Wesley was mentioning to a lady his desire 
to erect a Christian school, such as would not dis- 
grace the apostolic age. The lady was so well 
pleased with his views that she immediately gave 
him five hundred pounds in bank notes, and de- 
sired him to enter upon his plan immediately. 
Mr. Wesley did so. Some time after he was in 
company with the same lady, and she inquired of 
him how the building went on, and whether he 
needed further assistance. He informed her he 
had laid out the money he had received, and that 
he was three hundred pounds in debt, at the same 
time entreating her to consider it no concern of 
hers. She immediately retired and brought Mr. 
Wesley three hundred pounds, just the sum he 
needed. This noble donor was Lady Maxwell, of 
Scotland. 1 

Wesley's Investment. 

Mr. D. was one evening taking tea with that 
eminent artist, Mr. Culy, when he asked him 
whether he had seen his gallery of busts. Mr. D. 
answering in the negative, and expressing a wish 
to be gratified with a sight of it, Mr. Culy con- 
ducted him thither ; and after admiring the busts 

152 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

of the several great men of the day, he earne to 
one which particularly attracted his notice, and on 
inquiry found it was the likeness of the Rev. John 
Wesley. " This bust," said Mr. Culy, " struck 
Lord Shelburne in the same manner it does you ; 
and there is a remarkable fact connected with it, 
which, as I know you are fond of anecdote, I will 
relate to you precisely in the same manner and words 
that I did to him." On returning to the parlor 
Mr. Culy commenced accordingly : " I am a very 
old man ; you must excuse my little failings, and, 
as I before observed, hear it in the very words I 
repeated to his lordship. 'My lord,' said I, c per- 
haps you have heard of John Wesley, the founder 
of the Methodists ? 5 ' O yes,' he replied ; 6 he — 
that race of fanatics ! ' ' Well, my lord, Mr. Wes- 
ley had often been urged to have his picture taken, 
but he always refused, alleging as a reason that 
he thought it nothing but vanity ; indeed, so 
frequently had he been pressed on this point that 
his friends were reluctantly compelled to give up 
the idea. One day he called upon me 011 the busi- 
ness of our Church. I began the old subject of 
entreating him to allow me to take off his likeness 
' Well,' said I, e knowing you value money for the 
means of doing good, if you will grant my request 
I will engage to give you ten guineas for the first- 
ten minutes that you sit, and for every minute ex^ 
ceeding that time you shall receive a guinea. 5 
'What, 5 said Mr. Wesley, 'do I understand you 
aright ! that you will give me ten guineas for hav- 
ing my picture taken ? Well, I agree to it. 5 He 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 153 

then stripped off his coat and lay on the sofa, and 
in eight minntes I had the most perfect bust I had 
ever taken. He then washed his face, and I counted 

I to him ten guineas into his hand. 4 Well,' said he, 

j turning to his companion, 4 1 never till now earned 
money so speedily ; but what shall we do with it ? 5 
They then wished me a good-morning, and pro- 

! ceeded over Westminster Bridge. The first ob- 
ject that presented itself to their view was a poor 

j woman crying bitterly, with three children hang- 
ing round her, each sobbing, though apparently 
too young to understand their mother's grief. On 
inquiring the cause of her distress, Mr. Wesley 
learned that the creditors of her husband were 
dragging him to prison, after having sold their 
effects, which were inadequate to pay the debt by 
eighteen shillings, which the creditors declared 
should be paid. One guinea made her happy. 
They then proceeded, followed by the blessing of 
the now happy mother. On Mr. Wesley's inquir- 
ing of Mr. Burton, his friend, where their charity 
was most needed, he replied he knew of no place 
where his money would be more acceptable than 
in Gilt spur-street Compter. They accordingly re- 
paired thither, and on asking the Turnkey to point 
out the most miserable object under his care, he 
answered if they were come in search of poverty 
they need not go far. The first ward they entered 
they were struck with the appearance of a poor 
wretch, who was greedily eating some potato- 
skins. On being questioned, he informed them 
that he had been 'in that situation, supported by 


Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

the casual alms of compassionate strangers, for 
several months, "without any hope of release, and 
that he was confined for the debt of half a guinea. 
On hearing this Mr. Wesley gave him a guinea, 
which he received with the utmost gratitude ; and 
he had the pleasure of seeing him liberated, with 
half a guinea in his pocket. The poor man, on 
leaving his place of confinement, said, i Gentlemen, 
as you came here in search of poverty, pray go up 
stairs, if it be not too late.' They instantly pro- 
ceeded thither, and beheld a sight which called 
forth all their compassion. On a low stool, with 
his back toward them, sat a man, or rather a skele- 
ton, for he was literally nothing but skin and bone ; 
his hand supported his head, and his eyes seemed 
to be riveted to the opposite corner of the cham- 
ber, where lay, stretched on a pallet of straw, a 
young woman in the last stage of consumption, 
apparently lifeless, with an infant by her side, 
which was quite dead. Mr. Wesley immediately 
sent for medical assistance ; but it was too late for 
the unfortunate female, who expired a few hours 
afterward from starvation, as the doctor declared. 
You may imagine, my lord, that the remaining 
eight guineas would not go far in relieving such 
distress as this. No expense was spared for the 
relief of the now only surviving sufferer. But so 
extreme was the weakness to which he was re- 
duced, that six weeks elapsed before he could speak 
sufficiently to relate his own history. It appeared 
he had been a respectable merchant, and had mar- 
ried a beautiful young lady, eminently accoin- 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 155 

pushed, whom he almost idolized. They lived 
happily together for some time, until, by the fail- 
ure of a speculation, in which his whole property 
was embarked, he was completely ruined. Xo 
sooner did he become acquainted with his misfor- 
tune than he called all his creditors together, laid, 
before them the state of his affairs, and showed 
them his books, which were in the most perfect 
order. They all willingly signed the dividend ex- 
cept the lawyer, who owed his rise in the world to 
this merchant. The sum was £250, for which he 
obstinately declared he should be sent to jail. It 
was in vain the creditors urged him to pity his 
forlorn condition, and to consider his great respect- 
ability. That feeling was a stranger to his breast, 
and in spite of all their remonstrances, he was hur- 
ried away to prison, followed by his weeping wife. 
As she was very accomplished, she continued to 
maintain herself and her husband for some time 
solely by the use of her pencil. And thus they 
managed to put a little aside for the time of her 
confinement. But so long an illness succeeded 
that event that she was completely incapacitated 
from exerting herself for their subsistence, and 
their scanty savings were soon expended in pro- 
curing the necessaries which her situation then 
required. They were compelled to pawn their 
clothes, and their resources failing, they found 
themselves at last reduced to absolute starvation. 
The poor infant had just expired from want, and 
the hapless mother was about to follow it to the 
grave when Mr. Wesley and his friend entered; 

156 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

and, as I before said, the husband was so reduced 
from the same cause as to be with difficulty saved. 
Mr. Wesley, having acquainted himself with the 
case, went to the creditors and informed them of 
it. They were beyond measure astonished at what 
he had to tell, for so long a time had elapsed 
without hearing any thing of the merchant or his 
family that some supposed him to be dead, others 
that he had left the country. Among the rest he 
called upon the lawyer, and described to him the 
wretchedness he had witnessed ; but even this 
could not move him to compassion. He declared 
the merchant should not leave the prison without 
paying him every farthing. Mr. Wesley again 
visited the other creditors, who, considering the 
case of the sufferer, agreed to raise the sum and 
release him. Some gave £100, others £200, and 
another £300. The affairs of the merchant took a 
different turn : God prospered him, and in the sec- 
ond year he called his former creditors together, 
thanked them for their kindness, and paid the sum 
so generously advanced. Success continuing to 
attend him, he was enabled to pay all his debts, 
and realized considerable property. His afflictions 
made such a deep impression upon his mind that 
lie determined to remove the possibility of others 
suffering from the same cause, and for this purpose 
advanced a considerable sum as a foundation fund 
for the relief of small debtors. And the very first 
person who partook of the same was the inexorable 

It is said that this remarkable fact so entirely 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 157 

convinced Lord Shelburne of the mistaken opin- 
ion he had formed of Mr. Wesley that he imme- 
diately ordered a dozen of the busts to embellish 
the grounds of his beautiful residence. 

John Wesley and James Hervey., 

Rev. James Hervey was an amiable man of con- 
siderable genius. He was the author of " Medita- 
tions among the Tombs," " Theron and Aspasia," 
and other w^orks. He belonged to the " Holy 
Club " at Oxford, with John and Charles Wesley. 
John aided him in his studies, and taught him He- 
brew. He was a father to him, and treated him 
with as much kindness as if he had been his son. 
Mr. Hervey appreciated and acknowledged that 
kindness, as the following extract from his letter 
to John Wesley shows : " I will- invite you, my 
father and friend, to meet me among the spirits of 
the just men made perfect, since I am not likely 
to see you any more in the flesh. Then will I bid 
you welcome, yea, I will tell of your love before 
the universal assembly, and at the tremendous tri- 
bunal. I will hear with joy the Lord Jesus say of 
you, (O you that are greatly beloved !) 4 Well done, 
good and faithful servant. You have served your 
Lord and your generation with your might ; you 
have finished the work which my Father gave you 
to do. If others turned their thousands, you have 
turned your ten thousands from the power of Satan 
unto God ; receive, therefore, a glorious kingdom, 

158 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

a beautiful and immortal crown from my hand. 
Enter with the children I have given you, with the 
souls you have won.' O thou blessed one ! thou 
heir of glory ! enter in at those everlasting doors, 
and receive there the reward of thy labors, even 
fullness of joy for ever and ever." 

Till a late period hi life James Hervey exhibited 
toward John Wesley and his brother the warmest 
friendship and the purest affection. It is to be re- 
gretted that some posthumous editions of his " Let- 
ters " were made vehicles of abuse of Wesley by 
Hervey's editors. 

John Wesley and the Eleven Letters of James 

James Hervey entered the Calvinistic contro- 
versy, and he wrote " Eleven Letters to John Wes- 
ley." They were not published until after his 
death. Mr. Hervey did not wish them published, 
for several reasons, and upon his death-bed he 
charged his brother, who was his executor, not to 
publish them. But Mr. Hervey's brother was of 
another inind, believing the book would have an 
extensive sale, bearing the name of Hervey. The 
temptation was too great. He put the manuscript 
into the hands of William Cudworth, a fiery zealot 
and a great hater of the Wesleys, with liberty " to 
put out and in " any th ing he pleased. When fixed 
up to suit him it was sent forth bearing the hon- 
ored name of Hervey, and had an extensive circula- 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

tion, to the great injury of John Wesley. In a 
meek and quiet spirit, Mr. Wesley published a brief 
answer to all that was said against him in " The 
Eleven Letters." 

Mr. Hervey's brother made money by the pub- 
lication, but he did not long enjoy his ill-gotten 
gains. Soon after he lent a thousand pounds to an 
artful man, who prosecuted Mr. Hervey for taking 
more than the legal interest, and the penalty of 
thrice the sum w^as recovered. Ebenezer Blackwell, 
the banker, the intimate friend of John Wesley, 
was also Mr. Hervey's banker. Upon Mr. Hervey's 
expressing his surprise to Mr. Blackwell that he 
[Hervey] should be so entrapped, the banker replied, 
u Mr. Hervey, I will tell you the reason. You 
know your brother ordered you to destroy those 
letters eigednst Mr. Wesley, but you thought they 
would be productive and you published them. 
The business is now settled, and you may count 
your gains." 

John Wesley and Sir Richard Hill. 

Mr. Hill published some severe pamphlets against 
John Wesley. In concluding one he says, " This 
pamphlet was finished when I was told that 
Mr. Wesley had lately a very remarkable dream, 
which awakened him out of a sound sleep. This 
dream he communicated to his Society. It was in 
substance as follows : A big, rough man came to 
him and gave him a violent blow on the arm with 
a bar of red hot iron. 

160 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

Mr. Hill proceeds to the interpretation thereof. 

" 1. The big, rough man is Mr. Hill. 

"2. The bar of iron (red hot) Logica Wesleiensis* 

"3. The blow denotes the shock which Mr. John 
will receive by the said pamphlet. 

"4. His being awakened out of a sound sleep 
signifies there is yet hope that he will some time 
come to the right use of his spiritual faculties." 

Mr. Wesley's reply shows his powers of irony: 
" Pretty and well-devised ! And though it is true 
I never had any such dream since I was born, 
yet I am obliged to the inventor of it, and that on 
many accounts. I am obliged to him, 1. For send- 
ing against me only a big, rough man ; it might 
have been a lion or a bear. 2. For directing the 
bar of iron only to my arm; it might have been 
my poor skull. 3. For letting the big man give 
me only one blow. Had it been repeated I should 
have been slain outright. And, 4. For hoping 
I shall some time or other come to the right use of 
my spiritual faculties." 

Mr. Hill made some poetry on John Wesley that 
did not equal Milton or Young. Mr. Wesley in his 
reply said, "Perhaps Mr. Hill may expect that 
I should make him some return for the favor of his 
heroic poem. But, 

' Certes I have, for many days, 
Sent my poetic herd to graze.' 

And had I not, I should have been utterly unable 
to present him with a parallel ; yet, upon reflection, 

* The title of one of Mr. Hill's pamphlets against "Wesley. 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 


I believe I can, although I own it is rather of the 
lyric than of the heroic kind. And because, pos- 
sibly, he may be inclined to write notes on this too, 
I will tell him the origin of it. One Sunday, imme- 
diately after sermon, my fathers clerk said, with 
an audible voice, 'Let us sing to the praise and 
glory of God a hymn of my own composing.' It 
was short and sweet, and ran thus : 

u 1 King "William has come home, come home ; 

King William home is come ; 
Therefore together let us sing 

The hymn that is called Te D'um,' " 

John Wesley and the Earl of Huntingdon. 

The Earl was the only son of the celebrated 
Countess of Huntingdon. His Lordship had great 
personal respect for Mr. Wesley. They were sitting 
together one day when the Earl said to Mr. Wesley, 
" I should wish, sir, to have some conversation 
with you on the subject of religion ; the lady, my 
mother, is too importunate with me on these mat- 
ters.'' Mr. Wesley assented, inquiring, "What 
point would your lordship choose for discussion ? " 
"The difficulties of revelation,'' replied the Earl. 
Mr. Wesley said, "My Lord, had we not better 
begin with the difficulties of what is termed natural 
religion ? " The Earl* replied, " Sir, you surprise 
me ; I thought there were no difficulties in natural 
religion." Mr. Wesley answered, " My Lord, 
there are difficulties ; and such as I doubt neither 


1 62 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

you nor I can answer. What does your lordship 
think of the first point in all religion, the worship 
of an eternal God ? What idea has your lordship 
of a Being without beginning and without end ? " 
His lordship was silent for some time, and then 
expressed himself as utterly lost in the idea of such 
an existence. " And yet," said Mr. Wesley, " you 
must believe it ; can your lordship get on one step 
without believing it ? n The reply was, " I cannot." 
" Well, then," added Mr. Wesley, " my Lord, in all 
religion we must take the first point for granted, 
and that, too, with the highest reason; and yet 
we can form no conception of the idea of an eter- 
nal Being : it is too vast for finite intelligences. Let 
us, then, converse a little respecting the evidences 
of religion." Mr. Wesley being fully master of 
the subject, the conversation was long, interesting, 
and satisfactory. His Lordship made this objec- 
tion : " How can I be certain that this record, while 
I cannot deny any part of it, was ever realized by 
any man ? " " The same record, my Lord, which 
assures you of the facts, gives the clearest account 
of those who testify to the facts, and in such a 
manner as, admitting one, doubt is shut out of the 
other ; and I could bring a hundred witnesses out 
of the book who can now, any day, assure you of 
the same facts." " O," replied his Lordship, " my 
mother tells me enough of these to bring me to per- 
sonal experience, which as yet I cannot receive." 
Here the conversation ended. The Earl died in a 
fit of apoplexy, in the prime of youthful vigor, 
while sitting at a table with a party of friends. 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


Mr. Wesley said, " I have good hope in reference 
to the Earl, believing that, for some time before 
his death, his Lordship was a changed man." 

John Wesley and the Inquiring Lady. 

Mr. Wesley was once asked by a lady, " Suppose 
that you knew you were to die at twelve o'clock to- 
morrow night, how would you spend the intervening 
time ? " " How, madam ? " he replied ; " why just 
as I intend to spend it now. I should preach this 
night at Gloucester, and again at five to-morrow 
morning. After that I should ride to Tewkesbury, 
preach in the afternoon, and meet the societies in 
the evening. I should then repair to friend Mar- 
tin's house, who expects to entertain me, converse 
and pray with the family as usual, retire to my 
room at ten o'clock, commend myself to my heavenly 
Father, lie down to rest, and wake up in glory." 

The Mayor of Tiverton. 

What airs some men will put on when dressed up 
in brief authority ! Soon after Mr. Wesley began 
to preach in the open air at Tiverton bitter persecu- 
tion arose, and there was a mighty effort to put a 
stop to the work. Toward the close of 1752 the 
Mayor, being in company with some gentlemen, 
asked them if it would not be best to drive the 
Methodists out of town? saying there was but 

164 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

little reason for a new religion in Tiverton, where 
there were so many already. " You know," said he, 
" there is the old and the new Church, they are but 
one religion ; then there are the Presbyterians in 
Pitt-street and the Baptists in Newport-street — 
four ways of going to heaven already ! — enough in 
conscience, I think ; and if they wont go to heaven 
by one or the other of these, they sha'n't go to 
heaven at all from here while I am Mayor of 
Tiverton ! " 

The Disputant. 

Mr. Wesley was traveling on horseback, in 1741, 
into Leicestershire. He fell in company with a 
serious man, and they immediately entered into con- 
versation. Mr. Wesley says, "He presently gave 
me to know what his opinions were, therefore I said 
nothing to contradict them. But that did not con- 
tent him; he was quite uneasy to know whether 
I held the doctrine of the decrees as he did. But 
I told him over and over we had better keep to 
practical things, lest we should be angry with one 
another ; and so we did for two miles, till he caught 
me unawares, and dragged me into the dispute 
before I knew where I was. He then grew warmer, 
and told me he believed I was rotten at the heart, 
and he supposed I was one of John Wesley's fol- 
lowers. I told him, No, I am John Wesley 
himself. Upon this he appeared as one who had 
unawares trodden on a snake, and would gladly have 
run away outright, but being the better mounted 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 165 

of the two I kept close to his side, and endeavored 
to show him his heart till we came into the street 
of Nottingham." 

The Friendly Man- 
In 1741 Mr. Wesley was on his way from Oxford 
to Stanton-Harcourt on foot. Soon night overtook 
him, and the rain fell in torrents. He was wet 
and weary, and unacquainted with the way. He 
said in his heart, O that God would stay the bottles 
of heaven, or at least give me light or an honest 
guide, or some help in the manner thou knowest ! 
Presently the rain ceased, the moon shone, and a 
friendly man overtook him, who set him upon his 
horse and walked by his side till they came to Mr. 
Gambold's door, the place of his destination. Thus 
his mental prayer was answered ; not merely one of 
his petitions to have the rain cease, but also a light 
and a guide ; the Lord granted them all to him. 

The Learned Man. 

Mr. Wesley preached in Chelsea on the new 
birth. When he had finished his discourse a dis- 
senting teacher asked him, " Quid est tibi nomen ? " 
Mr. Wesley not answering, the gentlemen turned 
in triumph to his companions and said, " Ay, I told 
you he did not understand Latin." What an affec- 
tation of learning! Wesley's silence was attrib- 
uted to ignorance, though a mark of wisdom. 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

The Honest Enthusiast 

Mr. Wesley spent an hour or two at Breson with 
Mr. Simpson, whom he calls " the oddest, honestest 
enthusiast that ever was upon earth." Before they 
parted Mr. Simpson said, "Mr. Wesley, one thing 
I do not like, your taking away my flock at Notting- 
ham. Just now that text is brought to my mind. 
It is the very case, pray read it out." Mr. Wesley 
read as follows : " And Abraham reproved Abime- 
lech because of a well of water which AbimelecKs 
servants had taken away." Mr. Wesley requested 
him to read his answer in the next verse : " And 
Abimelech said unto Abraham, I wot not who 
hath done this thing ; neither yet heard I of it but 

The Virtue of Silence. 

John Wesley one day said to Dr. Clarke, " As 
I was walking through St. Paul's church-yard I ob- 
served two women standing opposite to one another. 
One was speaking and gesticulating violently, 
while the other stood perfectly still and in silence. 
Just as I came up and was about to pass them, 
the virago, clenching her fist and stamping her 
foot at her imperturbable neighbor, exclaimed, 
" Speak, wretch, that I may have something to 
say." "Adam," said Mr. Wesley, "that was a 
lesson to me ; silence is often the best answer to 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

abuse." Mr. Wesley was a great observer of human 
character, and he could draw useful lessons from 
the worst as well as the best. 

The Reproachful Man. 

Mr. Wesley met a gentleman with whom he had. 
some religious conversation, who said to him, " Mr. 
Wesley, you preach perfection" " Not to you" 
said Mr. Wesley. " And why not to me ? " he 
inquired. He answered, " Because I should like 
to preach something else to you, sir." "Why, 
what would you preach to me ? " Mr. Wesley 
replied, "How to escape the damnation of hell." 

The Blustering Man. 

Mr. Wesley once met a strange fellow of the 
baser sort, who declared his sin as Sodom, and hid 
it not. He was in the street cursing and swearing 
at an awful rate. Mr. Wesley reproved him for 
taking the name of the Lord in vain. He knew 
Mr. Wesley. The lion soon became a lamb. He 
offered to treat Mr. Wesley to some wine, and said 
" he would go and hear him if he was not afraid 
he would preach against the fighting of cocks." 
Alas, how many would go and hear the Gospel, 
but they are afraid ministers will preach against 
their favorite and besetting sins. 

1 68 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

The Harmless Ditty. 

In 1743 John Wesley went to St. Ives. He 
says, as they were going to church at eleven a 
large company at the market-place sung with a 
loud huzza, a song as harmless as the ditty sung 
under my own window, composed by a gentle- 
woman of their own town : 

" Charles Wesley is come to town 

To try if he can pull the churches down." 

Sir John Ganson. 

The early Methodists were not only persecuted 
in the rural districts, but even in London riotous pro- 
ceedings of a violent character occurred at their 
places of worship. The following will show that 
Mr. Wesley's zeal was regarded with favor in high 
places: "The last day of 1742 Sir John Ganson 
called upon Mr. Wesley and said, c Sir, you have 
no need to suffer these riotous mobs to molest you, 
as they have done so long. I and all the Middle- 
sex magistrates have orders from above to do you 
justice whenever you apply to us.' Two or three 
weeks after they did apply. Justice was done, 
and from that time the Methodists had peace in 

The King declared that no man in his dominions 
should be persecuted on account of his religion 
while he was on the throne. 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 169 

The Mayor of Shaftesbury. 

In 1750 John Wesley, on his return from Corn- 
wall, preached in the street at Shaftesbury. The 
audience was very attentive ; there was no noise ; 
no one spoke a word w^hile he was faithfully warn- 
ing sinners of their danger, and urging them to 
flee the wrath to come. When he returned to the 
house where he was entertained he received an un- 
expected visitor. He proved to be a Constable, 
who magnified his office, and delivered his mes- 
sage in the following laconic style : " Sir, the 
Mayor discharges you from preaching in this bor- 
ough any more." Mr. Wesley replied, " While 
King George gives me leave to preach I shall not 
ask liberty of the Mayor of Shaftesbury." 

The Parish Priest. 

At Bristol the colliers were repelled from the 
Lord's table by most of the ministers, while the 
Wesleys exhorted them to cleave to the Church ; 
but the Wesleys were also excluded from the 
Lord's table. John Wesley attended Church in 
Bristol on Sunday, July 27, 1740, and says: "I 
heard a miserable serrnon at Temple Church, rec- 
ommending religion as the most likely way to raise 
a fortune. After it proclamation was made that 
all should depart who were not of the parish. 
While the shepherd was driving away the lambs 
I stayed, suspecting nothing, till the clerk came to 

170 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

me and said, c Mr. Beecher bids you go away, for 
he will not give you the sacrament.' I went to 
the vestry door, and mildly desired Mr. Beecher 
to admit me. He asked, c Are you of this parish ? ' 
I answered, c Sir, you see I am a clergyman.' 
Dropping his first pretense, he charged me with 
rebellion, in expounding the Scripture without au- 
thority, and said in express words, 1 1 repel you from 
the sacrament.' I replied, c I cite you to answer 
this before Jesus Christ at the day of judgment.' 
This enraged him above measure. He called out, 
'Here, take away this manJ The Constables were 
ordered to attend, I suppose, lest the furious col- 
liers should take the sacrament by force ; but I 
saved them the trouble of taking away c this man,' 
and quietly retired." 

The Civil Authorities at Bristol. 

Some of the civil authorities in Bristol were 
equally hostile to the self-denying men who were 
wearing out their lives in disinterested efforts to 
raise the morals as well as save the souls of the 
common people. Two unhappy convicts, under 
sentence of death, requested to have the counsel 
and prayers of Mr. John Wesley before their exe- 
cution, but were peremptorily refused by Alder- 
man Beecher. Catherine Highfield, a servant- 
maid, who was connected with the Methodists, 
was charged with robbing her master of three 
hundred pounds. Mr. Charles Wesley says, that 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 


Alderman Day and others " threatened to put her 
in irons if she would not confess that she had given 
the money to my brother. When no proof could 
be brought against her they were forced to dis- 
charge her, and soon after her master found the 
money where he himself had lodged it." 

Thomas Walsh. 

Of all the preachers raised up by Wesley 
Thomas Walsh was the greatest genius. He was 
an Irish Roman Catholic, and was the first-fruit of 
street preaching in Ireland. John Wesley had his 
first interview with him in Newmarket, which re- 
sulted in his becoming an itinerant preacher. Mr. 
Walsh says : " I opened my mind to that man of 
God, John Wesley. His answer was, ' It is hard 
to judge what God has called you to till trial is 
made. When you have opportunity you may go 
to Shonil and spend two or three days with the 
people there. Speak to them in Irish. 5 Mr. Walsh 
did so, and soon opened his fruitful ministry. Xo 
man ever spoke to his countrymen in his native 
tongue with more success than Thomas Walsh. 
They listened to him as if he was an angel from 
heaven. It is an old maxim in Ireland, " When 
you plead for your life plead in Irish." 


Walsh's Scholarship. 

John Wesley says, I knew a young man who 
was so thoroughly acquainted with the Bible that 

172 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

if he was questioned concerning any Hebrew word 
in the Old or any Greek word in the Xew Testa- 
ment he would, after a little pause, tell not only 
how often the one or the other occurred in the 
Bible, but also what it meant in every place. His 
name was Thomas Walsh. Such a master of bib- 
lical knowledge I never saw before, and never ex- 
pect to see again." 

John Wesley's Regard for Walsh. 

In writing to his brother Charles concerning 
Thomas Walsh he says : " I love, admire, and 
honor him, and wish we had six preachers in all 
England of his spirit." Again he calls him " that 
blessed man," and says " wherever he preached the 
word, whether in English or Irish, it was sharper 
than a two-edged sword. I do not remember ever 
to have known a preacher who in so few years as 
he remained upon the earth was an instrument of 
converting so many sinners." 

Walsh's Gravity and Wesley's Cheerfulness. 

Thomas Walsh traveled with Mr. Wesley in Ire- 
land, and was stationed by him in London, so 
they were often in each other's company. Walsh 
was constitutionally grave, and he was never 
known to laugh after his conversion. His head 
was bowed down as a bulrush. It would have 
done him good to sing 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 173 

" Why should the children of a King 
Go mourning all their days?" 

John Wesley was perpetually cheerful, living in 
sunshine, sometimes indulging in innocent pleas- 
antry, relating some sparkling anecdote. Thomas 
Walsh wrote to Mr. Wesley complaining as follows : 
" Among three or four persons that tempt me to 
levity, you, sir, are one, by your witty proverbs." 

Wesley's Final Interview with Thomas Walsh. 

Mr. Walsh fell a martyr to his own imprudence. 
His h'ealth failed, his constitution was undermined. 
The 17th of June, 1758, Mr. Wesley met Thomas 
Walsh in Limerick " alive, and just alive. Three 
of the best physicians in these parts have attended 
him, and all agree that it is a lost case ; that by 
violent straining of his voice, added to frequent 
colds, he has contracted a pulmonary consumption, 
which is now in the last stage. O what a man to 
be snatched away in the strength of his years ! 
Surely thy judgments are a great deep." He died 
the next April. 

In the room in Dublin where he was sick he 
wrote on a pane of glass with a diamond in He- 
brew, Greek, Latin, and English the same sen- 
tence, "Xever satisfied with myself." He died 
very young, after having been in the ministry 
about ten years. Mr. Walsh suffered great men- 
tal anguish previous to his dissolution, but the 
cloud passed away, the sun shone with uncommon 

174 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

brilliancy, and his death was one of peculiar tri 
uniph. Lifting up his emaciated hands, he ex- 
claimed, " He is come ! he is come ! My beloved 
is mine, and I am his — his forever ! " This friend 
of Wesley has no stone to tell where his dust is 

The Comedians. 

Early Methodism was caricatured on the stage as 
well as by the press. Mr. Wesley was, Nov. 2,17 43, 
at Newcastle, and says the following advertisement 
was published: "For the benefit of Mr. Este, by 
the Edinburgh Company of Comedians, on Friday, 
Nov. 4, will be acted a Comedy called the £ Con- 
scious Lovers ;' to which will be added a Farce 
called 'Trick upox Trick; or, Methodise Dis- 
played.' " " A vast multitude of persons, not less 
than fifteen hundred, assembled to see this. Four 
several disasters happened during the play, each 
frightening away a due proportion of the company. 
Two or three hundred still remaining in the Hall, 
Mr. Este (who was to act the Methodist) came 
upon the stage and told them he was resolved, for 
all this, the farce should be acted. While he was 
speaking the stage sunk six inches lower; on 
which he ran back in the utmost confusion, and 
the people ran as fast as they could out of the 
door, not staying to look behind them." Such is 
Mr. Wesley's account of this ridiculous farce. 
Surely the people had more that night than they 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 


bargained for, and more was acted than was laid 
down in the programme. 

A little after was written by Mr. Foote the 
comedian, to be acted at the Theatre Royal, 
Co vent Garden, "A Comedy, the Methodist." 
It is a pamphlet over one hundred years old, of 
sixty-eight pages. It is low, vulgar, and profane. 
Its principal character is " Mr. Squint urn," that is, 
George Whitefield, so called because he was cross- 

The Highwayman. 

John Wesley was once stopped by a highway- 
man, who demanded his money or his life. Mr. 
Wesley, after giving him the money, said, "Let me 
speak one word to you; the time may come when 
you will regret the course of life hi which you are 
now engaged. Remember this, ' The blood of 
Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin.' " Xo more 
was said, and they parted. Many years after, as 
Mr. Wesley was going out of a church edifice in 
which he had been preaching, a stranger introduced 
himself, and asked Mr. Wesley if he remembered 
being waylaid at such a time. He said he recol- 
lected it. "I was that man," said the stranger, 
f and that single verse you quoted on that occa- 
sion was the means of a total change in my life 
and habits. I have long since been in the practice 
of attending the house of God and of giving atten- 
tion to his word, and trust that I am a Christian." 

176 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

Doctor Stennet,. 

It was publicly reported that John Wesley re- 
commended the use of a crucifix to a man under 
sentence of death. Mr. Wesley says, "I traced 
this story up to its author, Dr. Stennet, an Ana- 
baptist teacher, who was charged with reporting 
it, 5 ' and answered, " Why, I saw a crucifix in his 
cell, a picture of Christ on the cross, and I knew 
Mr. Wesley used to visit him, so I supposed he 
brought it." Mr. Wesley adds, " This is the whole 
of the matter. Dr. Stennet I never saw, nor did I 
ever see such a picture in the cell, and I believe 
the whole tale is pure invention." 

# The Justice of the Peace. 

Mr. Wesley relates the following : " The 9th of 
June, 1742, 1 rode over to a neighboring town from 
Epworth to wait upon a justice of the peace, a 
man of candor and understanding, before whom I 
was informed their angry neighbors had carried a 
wagon-load of these new heretics. But when he 
asked what they had done there was a deep silence, 
for that was a point their conductors had forgot- 
ten. At length one said, " They pretend to be bet- 
ter than other people ; and, besides, they pray from 
morning till night." The Justice inquired, "But 
have they done nothing besides?" "Yes, sir," 
said an old man, " an't please your worship, they 
have converted my wife. Till she went among 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


them she had such a tongue! and now she is as 
quiet as a lamb." " Carry them back, carry them 
back," replied the Justice, " and let them convert 
all the old scolds in the town." 

Count Zinzendorf. 

In 1745 Count Zinzendorf directed the publica- 
tion of an advertisement declaring that he and his 
people (the Moravians) had no connection with 
John and Charles Wesley, and concluded with a 
prophecy that they would soon run their heads 
against a wall. On this Mr. "Wesley contents him- 
self with coolly remarking, "We will not, if we 
can help it." 

John Wesley and the Captain's Excuses. 

Seneca has well said, " 'Tis a virtue to be covet- 
ous of time." ISTo one ever illustrated this proverb 
better than John Wesley. He did not mind the 
loss of money, and many other losses, but he al- 
ways lamented the loss of time; he esteemed it 
more valuable than gold or diamonds. Delays 
always tried his nerve, his patience, and his piety. 
In February, 1 748, he was delayed several days at 
Holyhead, waiting for a vessel to sail. He said, 
" I never knew men make such poor, lame excuses 
as these captains did for not sailing. It put me in 
mind of the epigram, 



Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

' There- are, if rightly I may think, 
Five causes why a man should drink.' 

Which with a little alteration would just suit 

1 There are. unless my memory fail, 
Five causes why we should not sail ; 
The fog is thick ; the wind is high ; 
It rains ; or may do by and by; 
Or — any other reason why.'" 

John Wesley and the Young Lady. 

John Wesley often visited Canterbury. He was 
entertained by a family by the name of Bis- 
saker. Their daughter Ann was a young lady of 
great personal attractions and had many admirers, 
some of whom sought for a closer intimacy; but 
she did not allow her feelings to blind her judg- 
ment. She underwent a severe trial. A young 
minister, of whose character and talents she had 
formed a high opinion, became her suitor. He was 
very popular as a preacher, and she greatly admired 
him. Becoming more intimately acquainted with 
him she discovered that which deeply disappointed 
her, and led to a separation. His irreverent use of 
the word God, and the general levity of his spirit, 
impressed her with the conviction that he had fallen 
from grace, and she decided, though at the expense 
of much feeling, to abandon his company. ISTot 
long after Mr. Wesley was at her mother's, and, 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 


knowing of the intimacy that existed between her 
and the young minister, he inquired why she had 
discountenanced his acquaintance. She assigned 
her reasons, and the answer was very emphatic. 
Wesley's striking reply was: " Light-spirited! I 
should as soon think he would curse and swear. 
I perceive he had too much sense for common 
sense. You have done right." Afterward she was 
married to James Parnell, " a man," she says, "truly 
devoted to God, whom I received as a spiritual 
helper, and in this I was not disappointed." * 

Some time previous to her marriage she was 
converted under the labors of the great revivalist 
William Bramwell. Such alterations were made 
in her dress as she deemed right in one professing 
godliness. iSTot long after Mr. Wesley paid another 
visit at her mother's, and he called her attention to 
some remaining article of dress which he thought 
a superfluity, saying, "Would it not do without 
this, ^Tancy ? " She replied with modest freedom, 
" Yes, sir ; but I think it does better with it, and 
I am not convinced that it is wrong." He rejoined, 
" Will you leave it off when you are convinced ? " 
She answered, "Yes, sir, I will." He replied, 
" That will do." Xot long after this conversation 
she heard Mr. Wesley preach a sermon from 
Romans xiii, 14; under it she was convinced of 
paying too much attention to her outward adorn- 
ing, and from that time she laid aside whatever 
she thought inconsistent with lowly, self-denying 

* Wesleyan Magazine, 1858, vol. ii, p. 583. 

I go 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

simplicity, and paid more attention to the inward 
adorning, the " meek and qniet spirit which in the 
sight of God is of great price." 

John Wesley and the Music Master. 

John Frederick Lampe was a musician of great 
talents and celebrity. He was a native of Ger- 
many, and studied music in Saxony. He went to 
England in 1725, and was employed by Mr. Rich, 
of Covent Garden Theater, to compose dramatic 
music. He was the author of a quarto volume 
entitled, U A Plain and Commodious Method of 
Teaching Thorough Bass after the most Rational 
Manner, with proper Rules for Practice." This was 
published in 1737. In the "Musical Miscellany," 
published by Dr. Watts in six volumes, are many 
songs composed by Lampe at different times. 
While thus connected with the theater he was an 
infidel. He became convinced of the truth and 
importance of Christianity by reading John Wes- 
ley's work, "Earnest Appeal to Men of Reason 
and Religion." He embraced the truth with joy, 
became a sincere Christian, and employed his fine 
talents in the service of God by setting many of 
the Wesleyan hymns to music. Thus he nobly 
aided John and Charles Wesley and the Church of 
the living God. He maintained his integrity till 
his final hour, and then went to share in the music 
of the skies. 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 1 8 1 

John Wesley and the Quaker's Dream. 

The work of God had greatly revived at New - 
castle, but the people had no house of worship. 
Mr. Wesley purchased a site ; the building was to 
cost seven hundred pounds. Many were skeptical 
concerning its ever being finished. Mr. Wesley 
says, " I was of another mind, not doubting but as 
it was begun for God's sake he would provide 
what was needful for the finishing of it." 

Mr. Wesley had only one pound and six shil- 
lings when he commenced. Soon after he began 
he received a letter from a pious Quaker which 
read thus : " Friend Wesley, I have had a dream 
concerning thee. I thought I saw thee surrounded 
by a large flock of sheep, which thou didst not know 
what to do with. My first thought after I awoke 
was, that it was thy flock at Newcastle, and that 
thou hadst no house of worship for them. I have 
inclosed a note for one hundred pounds, which 
may help thee to provide a house." Money came 
from various quarters, and the building was com- 
pleted, and Mr. Wesley called it "The Orphan 
House." * 

The Liberal Clergyman. 

Mr. Wesley was fortunate in securing a good 
site in Newcastle-upon-Tyne for his new building. 
It was not only to be a preaching place, and a 
home for the preachers, but it was designed to 

° Moore's Life of Wesley, page 451. 

I 82 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

provide an asylum for widows and orphans. This 
was in 1743. Soon after the commencement of the 
work the Rev. Mr. Turner, then Vicar of Newcas- 
tle, passing the place inquired what building was 
about to be erected there. On hearing it was a 
preaching house for Mr. TTesley he expressed his 
surprise, and stated that a few nights before he 
had seen in a dream a vision of angels ascending 
and descending on a ladder on that very spot. 
He considered it as a fulfillment of his dream, and 
expressed his satisfaction, and hope that many 
souls might be converted to God in that place. 
His catholic spirit is an honorable exception to the 
spirit of the clergy of that day generally, and also 
to that of some dissenting ministers then of that 
town, who viewed Mr. Wesley's proceedings with 
a jealous eye. Three of the dissenting ministers 
of Xewcastle had agreed to exclude all those frorn 
the holy communion who would not refrain from 
hearing the Methodists. " One,'' said Mr. TTesley, 
4 ; publicly 'affirmed that we were all Papists, and 
our doctrine mere Popery." Another went a step 
further, after he had confessed that many texts 
in the Bible were for them ; u but these," said he, 
" you ought not to mind, for the Papists have put 
them in." 

John Wesley's Rule of Living. 

John Hampson said. " Perhaps the most chari- 
table man in England was John TTesley." His lib- 
erality to the poor knew no bounds. He gave 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


away not merely a certain part of his income, but 
all he had." He laid down three rules : " Gain all 
you can, save all you can, give all you can." He 
says, " Permit me to speak of myself as freely as I 
would of any other man. I gain all I can without 
hurting my body or soul ; I save all I can, not 
wasting any thing, not a sheet of paper, not a cup 
of water. I do not lay out any thing, not a shil- 
ling, unless a sacrifice for God ; yet by giving all 
I can I am effectually secured from laying up treas- 
ures upon earth. Yea, and that I do this, I call 
upon both friends and foes to testify." * He kept 
an exact account of all his expenditures, and how 
every penny was laid out. In the last year of his 
life he wrote in his diary : " I shall keep no more 
accounts. It must suffice that I give to God all I 
can, that is, all I have." 

A Sermon Hard to Understand. 

John Wesley says in his sermon on " The Dan- 
ger of Riches," M Two sensible men as most in 
England sat down together to read over and con- 
sider my plain discourse on 1 Lay not up for your- 
selves treasures upon earth. 5 After much deep 
consideration one of them exclaimed, c Positively I 
cannot understand it ! Pray, do you understand 
it, Mr. L. ? 3 3Ir. L. honestly replied, 'Indeed, not L 
I cannot conceive what Mr. Wesley means. I can 
make nothing at all out of it.' " How true it is 
* Sermons, vol. ii. page 254. 

184 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

that none are more blind than those who will not 
see, and that it is very difficult to appreciate that 
which we do not wish to understand. 

John Wesley and the Rich Methodists. 

He says : " A Methodist gentleman told me 
some years ago, £ I shall leave forty thousand 
pounds among my children.' jSTow suppose he 
had left them but twenty thousand, and given the 
other twenty thousand to God and the poor, would 
God have said to him, 'Thou fool?' and this 
would have set the Society far above want." 

He also relates the following : "A gentleman 
went to a merchant in London a few years ago 
and asked a guinea for a worthy family in great 
distress. He replied, 'Really, Mr. M., I cannot 
well afford to give it you now. If you will call 
upon me when I am worth ten thousand pounds I 
will give you ten guineas.' Mr. M. called upon 
him some time after, and said, 6 1 claim your prom- 
ise ; you now are worth ten thousand pounds.' 
He replied, £ That is very true, but I assure you I 
cannot spare now one guinea as well as I could 
then.' " 

John Wesley and Lady Huntingdon. 

About the year 1742 Mr. Wesley's visits to 
Donnington Park, the seat of Lady Huntingdon, 
were very frequent. On one occasion it was re- 
marked that poetry, which should answer the no- 

Anecdotes of tke Wesley s. 


blest purposes, had been prostituted to the vilest, 
and that, therefore, a ehoiee eollectiou of English 
poems was a desideratum. Mr. Wesley revised the 
English poems, and selected what was most valu- 
able in them. He published three volumes of sa- 
cred poems, and dedicated them to Lady Hunting- 
don. With this exception. John Wesley sought 
no patronage either for the works he published or 
the charities he established. 

John Wesley and Robert Dodsley. 

The character of John Wesley is illustrated by 
a circumstance connected with the publication of 
the above-named volumes. Mr. Wesley made ex- 
tracts from Milton, Dryden, Pope, Watts, Young, 
and others. A few months after the volumes were 
issued Robert Dodsley, the publisher of Young's 
" Xight Thoughts." and owner of the copyright, 
called on Mr. Wesley for damages for interfering 
with his copyright. Mr. Wesley, with character- 
istic frankness, confessed his fault, and agreed to 
pay Mr. Dodsley fifty pounds to settle it. The 
following is a copy of his obligation : 

^Loxdox. February S. 1744. 
"Having inadvertently printed, in a collection 
of poems in three volumes, 12mo., the 'Xight 
Thoughts ' of Dr. Young, together with some 
pieces of Mrs. Howe's, the property of Mr. Dods- 
ley, and having made satisfaction of the same by 

1 86 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

the payment of a twenty-pound bank note and a 
check for thirty pounds, payable in three months, 
I promise not to print the same again in any form 
whatever.* J. Wesley." 

This singular document was sold at auction in 
London for twenty-eight shillings in 1835. 

John Wesley's Christian Library. 

John Wesley had a large idea in his head when 
he formed the plan to publish the " Christian Li- 
brary." In 1746 he said: "I have thoughts of 
printing all that is most valuable in the English 
tongue in three or four score volumes in order to 
provide a complete library for those who fear 
God." In carrying out this plan in fifty volumes 
Wesley rescued from oblivion many works of great 
value. It was a magnificent effort to render avail- 
able to the spiritual interests of the people the 
scarce works of voluminous and learned authors. 
His plan was to condense these works, and sepa- 
rate the wheat from the chaff Valuable as the 
work was, it did not meet with the encouragement 
it deserved. Mr. Wesley, in alluding to this fact, 
ironically says : " I have often observed that the 
only way, according to modern taste, for any au- 
thor to procure commendation for his book is to 
vehemently commend it himself." 

Mr. Wesley, in his journal of 1753, says: "I 

* Wesleyan Magazine, 1848. 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 187 

have prepared the rest of the books for the Chris- 
tian Library, a work by which I have lost two 
hundred pounds. Perhaps the next generation 
may know the value of it."* 

The Calvinistic party discouraged the sale of 
this library of " Practical Divinity." One of their 
leaders inquired of Mr. Wesley, "Is not your 
Christian Library an odd collection of mutilated 
writings of Dissenters of all sorts ? " Mr. Wesley 
answered, " No. In the first ten volumes there is 
not a line from any Dissenter of any sort, and the 
greatest part of the other forty are extracted from 
Archbishop Leighton, Bishops Taylor, Patrick, 
Ken, Reynolds, Saunderson, and other ornaments 
of the Church of England." 

Again some one inquired, " Is not this declaring 
that you have a superior privilege beyond all men 
to print, correct, and direct as you please ? " Mr. 
Wesley answered, " I think not. I suppose every 
man in England has the same privilege." 

John Wesley and Philip Doddridge. 

Philip Doddridge was a very pure spirit. John 
Wesley and he were great friends, and Dr. Dod- 
dridge frequently welcomed him to his residence at 
Northampton. They were frequent correspond- 
ents. When Mr. Wesley was about to publish 
the Christian Library he consulted Dr. Dod- 

s The other editions were more profitable. 

1 88 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

dridge, who fiirnislied him with the titles of many 
valuable works. 

When Mr. Wesley published his u Appeal to 
Men of Eeason and Religion " Doddridge read it, 
and expressed his admiration by writing upon it 
thus : "Mow forcible are right words ! " 

John Wesley on Homer. 

" Poetry, history, and philosophy," says "Wesley, 
" I read on horseback." In August, 1 748, as he was 
riding to Newcastle, he finished reading the tenth 
book of Homer s Iliad. He says, " What an amaz- 
ing genius had this man ! Yet one cannot but 
observe such improprieties intermixed as are shock- 
ing to the last degree. What excuse can any man 
of sense make for 

1 His scolding heroes and bis wounded gods ? ' 

Nay, does he not introduce even his £ father of gods 
and men ;' once while shaking heaven with his nod, 
and soon after assailing his sister and wife, the em- 
press of heaven, with such language as a carman 
might be ashamed of? Are these some of those 
1 divine boldnesses which naturally provoke short- 
sightedness and ignorance to show themselves ? ' " 
Again : "Last week I read over, as I rode, a 
great part of Homer s Odyssey. I always imagined 
it was, like Milton's 'Paradise Regained,' 
; The last faint effort of an expiring muse.' 

But how was I mistaken ! How far has Homers 
latter poem the pre-eminence over the former ! It is 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


not, indeed, without its blemishes ; but his numer- 
ous beauties make large amends for these. Was 
ever man so happy in his descriptions, so exact 
and consistent in his characters, and so natural in 
telling a story? He likewise continually inserts 
the finest strokes of morality ; (which I cannot find 
in Virgil ;) on all occasions recommending the fear 
of God, with justice, mercy, and truth. In this 
only he is inconsistent with himself: he makes his 
hero say, 4 Wisdom never lies and 

' Him, 011 whate'er pretense, that lies can tell. 
My soul abhors him as the gates of hell.' 

Meantime he himself [Ulysses] on the slightest 
pretense tells deliberate lies over and over; nay, 
and is highly commended for so doing by the 
Goddess of Wisdom !" 

John Wesley on Style. 

The model he proposed to himself was the 
Epistles of John. He says, "Here is sublimity 
and simplicity together, the strongest sense and 
the plainest language." Again he says, "If I 
observe any stiff expression, I throw it out, neck 
and shoulders." 

Some one inquired, "What is it that consti- 
tutes a good style?" He replied, "Perspicuity, 
purity, propriety, strength, and easiness joined 
together." He said he could no more write in a 
fine style than he could weave a fine coat. 

190 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

John Wesley on Music. 

John Wesley had an exquisite taste for music, 
vocal and instrumental, as well as for poetry. At 
one time we find him in some ancient cathedral 
charmed with the choruses of Handel. " The music 
of c Glory to God in the highest ' pealed forth from 
such an organ as I never saw or heard before, so 
large, so beautiful, and so full-toned." His fine 
taste for music is revealed in another passage. He 
says, " While we were administering I heard a low, 
soft, solemn sound, just like that of an iEolian 
harp. It continued five or six minutes, and so 
affected many they could not refrain from tears ; it 
tl en gradually died away. Strange that no other 
organist that I know should think of this." 

John Wesley and his Patients. 

Mr. Wesley had regularly studied medicine be- 
fore he went to America, where he imagined he 
might be of service to those who had no regular 
physician. In 1746 he had a dispensary at the 
Old Foundery, an assistant apothecary and an ex- 
perienced surgeon, resolving at the same time not 
to go beyond his depths, but to leave all difficult 
and complicated cases to such medical attendants 
as the patient might choose. The result was won- 
derful. After the announcement was made that he 
would give medicine to the poor, the next day 
thirty patients came, and in three weeks five hun- 
d red. Very soon seventy were cured of diseases long 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

thought to be incurable. The expense of the medi- 
cines was about forty pounds. Three years after, 
1749, Mr. Wesley wrote : " I do not know that any 
patient yet has died under my hands." 

Wesley's "Primitive Physic." 

The great success attending Mr. Wesley's first 
efforts to heal the poor led to the publication 
of his " Primitive Physic." The first edition was 
printed in 1747, and sold for one shilling. Its 
design was to recommend simple remedies for 
diseases, and a plain diet for the preservation of 
health. He inquires in the preface, " Who would 
not have a physician always in his house, and one 
who attends without fee or reward to prescribe for 
his family as well as himself?" The sale of the 
book was marvelous, and exceedingly surprised 
Mr. Wesley, who revised it several times with 
alterations and additions. His last revision was in 
1780. It had then passed through thirty editions. 
He says, "I still advise in complicated cases, or 
where life is in immediate danger, for any one to 
apply without delay to a physician that fears God. 
From one who does not, be his fame ever so great, 
I shall expect a curse rather than a blessing." 

The Quaker's Testimony. 

John Wesley related the following anecdote to 
Henry Moore : " One of the original Society of 


Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

Methodists at Oxford, after seeking for others like- 
minded, at length joined the Society of Quakers, and 
settled at Kew. Being a man of considerable prop- 
erty and of exemplary behavior he was much re- 
spected, and was favored with free permission to 
walk in the royal gardens. Here he frequently met 
the King, who conversed freely with him, and with 
much apparent satisfaction. Upon one of these 
occasions his Majesty, knowing that he had been 
at Oxford, inquired if he knew the Wesleys, add- 
ing, 6 They have made a o*reat noise in the nation.' 
The gentleman replied, 4 1 know them well, King 
George ; and thou niayest be assured that thou 
hast not two better men in thy dominions, nor men 
that love thee better, than John and Charles Wes- 
ley, 5 He then proceeded to give some account of 
their principles and conduct, with which the King 
seemed much pleased. When Mr. Wesley had 
finished relating this, he said, 4 We see, sir, the 
Lord can bring a tale to the ear of the King.' 
Mr. Wesley with deep emotion said, ' O, I have 
always found the blessedness of a single eye, of 
leaving all to him.' " 

John Wesley and Royalty. 

Mr. Wesley feared God and honored the King. 
While he did this he did not forget that the path 
of all human greatness leads to the grave ; that 

" Earth's highest station ends in 'Here he lies,' 
And 'dust to dust' concludes the noblest song." 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 193 

In 1755 Mr. Wesley was in the robe-chamber adjoin- 
ing the House of Lords when the King (George EL.) 
put on his robes. He says, " His brow was much 
furrowed with age, and quite clouded with care. 
And is this all the world can give, even to a king ? 
All the grandeur it can afford? A blanket of 
eiTuine round his shoulders, so heavy and cumber- 
some he can scarce move under it ! A huge heap 
of borrowed hair, with a few plates of gold and 
glittering stones upon his head ! Alas ! what a 
bauble is human greatness ! " 

The Rich Banker. 

Ebenezer Blackwell was a very rich banker in 
London. He was a Methodist, and a trustee of City 
Road Chapel, which was built in 1778. He was a 
man of noble soul, and gave large sums of money 
to John and Charles Wesley for benevolent objects. 
The most intimate relation subsisted between him 
and John Wesley, and their letters have been 

" Are you going to hear Mr. Wesley preach ? " 
said a friend to Mr. Blackwell. "^STo," he an- 
swered ; " I am going to hear God ; I listen to 
Him, whoever preaches; otherwise I lose all my 

Mr. Blackwell's country-seat was in Lewisham, 
five miles from London. There he always made 
the Wesleys welcome. This place is famous, be- 
cause Mr. Wesley was in the habit of retiring to it 


194 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

when he wished to write for the press, and many 
of his valuable works were written there. His 
celebrated four volumes of " Sermons " were written 
at Mr. Blackwell's, with the use of no other books 
than the Holy Scriptures in the original. 

Wesley came near dying there in November, 
1753. His Quaker doctor advised him to leave 
London ; he was so ill there was but little hope of 
his recovery. The Doctor said, " If any thing ever 
does thee good it must be the country air, with 
rest, asses' milk, and riding daily." Wesley was so 
feeble that he could not sit on a horse, but went to 
Lewisham in Mr. Blackwell's coach. For some 
time he hovered between two worlds, but finally 
recovered. Mr. and Mrs. Blackwell watched over 
him with warm affection during his dangerous 

His brother Charles visited him, and when he 
saw how feeble his brother John was he fell on his 
neck and wept. All in the room were bathed in 
tears. Charles prayed with him, and wrote, " It is 
most probable he will not recover, being far gone 
in a galloping consumption, just as my eldest 
brother was at his age." Again he says : " John 
changed for the better while the people were pray- 
ing for him at the Foundery." x 

John Wesley and his Epitaph. 

Mr. Wesley was so feeble that he thought he 
might soon die, and the evening he reached Mr, 
Blackwell's he says, " Not knowing how it might 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


please God to dispose of rne, to prevent vile pan- 
egyric I wrote as follows : 

; Here lieth 
The body of John "Wesley. 
A brand plucked out of the burning, 
VTho died of Consumption in the fifty-first year 
of his age. 

And leaving, after his debts are paid, ten pounds 
behind him ; 

God be merciful to me, an unprofitable servant.'" 

Mr. Wesley ordered that this inscription, if any, 
should be placed upon his tombstone. 

Wesley's Notes on the New Testament. 

Mr. Wesley's Xotes on the Xew Testament are 
brief, that the comment may not obscure the text. 
They are plain, to assist the unlearned reader. Had 
it not been for his four months' sickness at Lewis- 
ham, at Mr. BlaekwelTs, these Xotes would never 
have had an existence. In January, 1754, he went 
to the Hot "Wells near Bristol for his health, and 
says, "The 6th of January I began wiiting Xotes on 
the Xew Testament, a work which I should scarcely 
ever have attempted had I not been so ill as not 
to be able to travel or preach, and yet so well as 
to be able to read and write." Mr. Wesley spent 
from five o'clock in the morning till nine in the 
evening on his work, with the exception of a little 
time for meals and exercise. Hard work, we should 
think, for a well man, let alone a sick one. He 

196 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

first made a rough draft, and then transcribed his 
notes and gave them his finishing touch. His 
brother Charles visited him, and they spent several 
days in comparing the translation of the Evangel- 
ists with the original. Charles afforded John more 
assistance in this work than in any other of his 
numerous publications. Some years after it was 
printed Charles revised it, showing exquisite taste 
and judgment. 

John Wesley and Bishop Lowth. 

Mr. Blackwell was twice married, and both his 
wives were excellent women, whose names are in 
the book of life. His second wife was a niece of 
Bishop Lowth. Charles Wesley, junior, was inti- 
mately acquainted with the family, and states that 
Bishop Lowth by appointment one day dined with 
Mr. Wesley at Mr. Blackwell's. Mr. Wesley de- 
sired him to occupy the seat of honor at the head 
of the table. Bishop Lowth declined the honor to 
which his rank entitled him, and said to Mr. Wes- 
ley, "May I be found at your feet in another 

The Cathedral. 

At Canterbury there is an ancient and magnifi- 
cent Cathedral. In 1750 John Wesley visited it 
and wrote, "I walked over the Cathedral and 
surveyed the monuments of the ancient men of 
renown. One would think such a sight would 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 


strike an utter damp upon human vanity. What 
are the great, the fair, the valiant now ? the match- 
less warrior ? the puissant monarch ? 

'A heap of dust alone remains of thee, 

'Tis all thou art. and all the proud shall be.' " 

Wesley Preventing a Riot. 

Cruel were the persecutions endured in the 
heroic age of Methodism. In 1765, John Wes- 
ley went to Feversham. On his arrival he was 
informed that the mob and magistrates had agreed 
to drive Methodism out of the town, and that they 
were, like Milton's devils, 

;, In full concord joined," 

Mr. "Wesley, after preaching, informed the people 
what he had been constrained to do to the magis- 
trate at Rolvenden, who, perhaps, would have been 
richer by some hundred pounds had he never 
meddled with the Methodists, and concluded by 
saying, in a bold manner, <; Since we have both 
God and the law on our side, if we can have peace 
by fair means we had much rather, we should be 
exceeding glad; but if not, we will have peace." 
When they saw his boldness, and that the Meth- 
odists had intelligence enough to know their rights 
and courage enough to maintain them, persecution 
ceased in that place. There is no virtue in lying 
down and permitting people to trample you under 
their feet. 

198 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

The Unwise Reprovers. 

Mr. Wesley was in Canterbury in December, 
1768, and says, "I made an odd observation here 
which I recommend to all our preachers. The 
people in Canterbury have been so often reproved, 
and frequently without cause, for being dead and 
cold, that it has utterly discouraged them, and 
made them cold as stones. How delicate a thing 
it is to reprove ! To do it well, requires more than 
human wisdom." 

John Wesley and the Hard-hearted Officer. 

On the 25th of February, 1775, Mr. Wesley 
preached at the Foundery an awful sermon on civil 
war, from Daniel iv, 27. Mr. Wesley said that of 
all scourges from God war was the most to be 
deprecated, because it often swept away all traces 
of religion, and even of humanity. He then re- 
lated the following, which drew a tear from almost 
every eye : " I conversed with an officer who was 
of a remarkably mild disposition. He was three 
years in Germany during the last war, where he 
was sent by the general with a party of soldiers to 
get provisions wherever they could find any. They 
first arrived at a farm-house. The master of the 
family having been frequently plundered had fled, 
and left his wife with the care of seven small chil- 
dren, and only one cow for their subsistence. The 
woman fell at the feet of the soldiers, imploring 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s, 199 

them with strong cries and tears that they would 
spare the cow for the nourishment of her helpless 
offspring. She clasped the knees of the officer 
with every sign of frantic grief; he forced her 
from him, and the soldiers drove away her cow. 
This officer afterward told me," said Mr. Wesley, 
" war had rendered his heart so hard, and his mind 
so ferocious, that he could have even broiled the 
woman and her seven children." Mr. Wesley 
having concluded this affecting narrative said, 
" Should the great God suffer the hellish rage of 
civil war to be let loose on England, perhaps the 
most humane person now in London may be equal- 
ly hardened in his heart." * 

John Wesley and the Beggars. 

In October, 1783, Mr. Wesley was in Norwich, 
As he was about to leave the place the poor, as 
usual, flocked around him, and were extremely an- 
noying. Having only as much money as would 
defray his expenses to the next place, he turned 
when near his carriage and said to them rather 
sharply, " I have nothing for you ; do you think I 
can support the poor in every place ?" In ascend- 
ing the steps of his carriage his foot slipped, and 
he fell backward upon the ground. Joseph Brad- 
ford, his faithful traveling companion, raised him 
up, and just as he was reascending the steps of the 
carriage he turned his head toward Mr. Bradford, 

* Wesleyan Magazine, 1819, p. 222. 

200 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

who stood behind him, and meekly said, " It is all 
right, Joseph, it is all right ; it was only what I 
deserved, for if I had no other good to impart I 
ought at least to have given them good words.* 5 
The venerable man felt as if he had injured the 
feelings of the poor by the sharpness of his man- 
ner, and he was instantly melted into tenderness 
in their presence, and attributed his fall to his 

Sharp Retort. 

At a certain time John Wesley was going along 
a narrow street, when a rude, low-bred fellow, who 
had no regard for virtue, station, or gray hairs, 
ran against him and tried to throw him down, 
saying, in an impudent manner, "I never turn 
out for a fool." Mr. Wesley, stepping aside, said, 
" I always do," and the fool passed on. 

John Wesley and the Wag. 

While Mr. Wesley was preaching at Durham a 
waggish fellow came into the congregation and 
began to make sport by low jokes and ribaldry. 
He greatly disturbed the congregation as well as 
the preacher. Mr. Wesley called a keen-eyed ac- 
quaintance to him, wishing him to contrive some 
plan to get rid of the fellow. William was shrewd, 
took the hint at once, and laid a plan that acted 
like a charm. When the wag said any thing 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

20 1 

William went close up to him and burst into a 
hearty laugh, saying, " Bravo ! that is pretty ; say 
it over again." " What," said the clown ; " did 
you not hear it the first time ? " " O yes," said 
William ; " but it is so funny. Say it over again 
for the edification of the people. Come, we are all 
attention." He repeated this two or three times, 
and made the wag feel so foolish that he was glad 
to leave. Then Mr. Wesley finished his discourse 
without further disturbance. 

John Wesley and the Conscientious Man. 

Wesley relates an anecdote of a man in Liver- 
pool who had beaten his wife by the advice of his 
minister. He beat her with a huge stick till she 
was black and blue from head to foot. Mr. Wes- 
ley expostulated with him in regard to such cruel 
treatment of his wife, but he could make no im- 
pression on the man. He says the worthy hus- 
band contended it was all right. " The woman," 
he said, " was surly and ill-natured, and he had 
flogged her under a sense of duty, and in good 

John Wesley and the Will. 

A gentlewoman had made her last will and tes- 
tament, and wished Mr. Wesley to witness it. He 
courteously obliged her, and gravely signed his 
name to the instrument, in which she had be- 

202 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

queathed part cf her property to the poor, and 
part to u her dog Toby during his natural life." 

John Wesley and the Swine-herd. 

Mr. Wesley was fond of field preaching, as it 
was an excellent way to reach the masses. He 
delighted to hold forth in nature's magnificent 
temple. The places he occupied were often sur- 
passingly beautiful. Lovely as were some of the 
green spots where he used to preach to vast mul- 
titudes under the broad blue arch of the heavens, 
yet he often preached in very uncomfortable places, 
where amusing incidents occurred. 

At one time, for the want of a better place, he 
preached in a loft over a large hog-pen. The smell 
from below was far from being agreeable, and what 
made it still more annoying to him and his con- 
gregation, the swine-herd took that opportunity to 
feed the hogs, who squealed, and made most dis- 
cordant music. 

Mr. Wesley says he concluded the people 
must love the Gospel to come to such a place to 
hear it, and therefore he preached to them one of 
his very best sermons. 

John Wesley and the Attentive Hearer. 

Mr. Wesley was disturbed by another animal 
to which mankind are not very partial. As he 
was preaching one day very earnestly to a serious 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 203 

and attentive congregation in one of the large and 
newly-erected houses of worship an ass very de- 
liberately walked through the gate, came gravely 
to the door, put his head in, and stood seriously 
listening to the discourse. Mr. Wesley thought 
the profound attention of the beast a reproof to 
careless hearers. He rejoiced that only seriously 
disposed people were present. 

John Wesley and the Apostate. 

John Wesley, in his sermon on the Loss of the 
Soul, relates the following, enough to fill one's soul 
with horror : " Some years since one who had 
turned back as a dog to his vomit was struck in 
his mad career of sin. A friend who prayed with 
him said, c Lord, have mercy on those who are just 
stepping out of the body, and know not who shall 
meet them at their entrance into the other world, 
an angel or a fiend.' The sick man shrieked out 
with a piercing cry, 'A fiend ! a fiend ! ' and ex- 
pired. Mr. Wesley adds, " Just such an end, un- 
less he die like an ox, may any man expect who 
loses his own soul." * 

John Wesley and James Watson. 

Mr. Wesley was preaching a sermon at New- 
castle, and in making the application he thought 

* Wesley's Sermons, vol ii, page 22. 

204 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

of a distinguished backslider, and abruptly in- 
quired, " 4 Is Saul among the prophets ? ' Is 
James Watson here ? If he be, show thy power." 
James Watson was present, fell down, and cried 
aloud for mercy. Such preaching now would be 
considered very personal. 

John Wesley and the Female Impostor. 

A woman went to Mr. Wesley in London and 
said that God had sent her to him to say that he 
was laying up treasures on the earth, taking his 
ease, and minding only eating and drinking. 
Mr. Wesley told her " God knew better than that, 
and if he had sent her to him the message given 
would have been more truthful and proper." 


John Wesley and the False Prophets. 

When in London some who pretended to be 
prophets came to him, saying they were di- 
vinely commissioned to inform him that he had 
not been born again, but the work would soon be 
done, and they would remain, unless he turned 
them out of doors, till it was accomplished. Mr. 
Wesley showed them into the preaching room, 
and told them they might remain there. It was a 
bitter cold day, and there was no fire in the room. 
The fanatics grinned, and bore the cold from morn- 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 205 

ing till night ; but hearing no more of Mr. Wesley 
they wisely took leave, and left him to get along 
with the new birth without their assistance, for 
they troubled him no more. 

John Wesley and the Reformed Drunkard. 

It has long passed for an indisputable maxim, 
" Never attempt to reprove a man when he is in- 
toxicated." " Reproof," it is said, u is then thrown 
away, and can have no good effect." John Wes- 
ley repudiates the sentiment, and says, " I dare not 
say so, for I have seen not a few instances to 
the contrary. Take one. Many years ago, passing 
by a man in Moorfields who was drunk, I put 
a paper in his hand. He looked at it, then at me, 
and said, c A word — a word to a drunkard that is, 
sir. I am wrong ; I know I am wrong. Pray let 
me talk a little with you.' He held me by the hand 
for a full half hour, and I believe he got drunk no 
more. I beseech you, brethren, do not despise 
drunkards. c Sinners of every sort,' said a venera- 
ble old clergyman, 6 have I frequently known con- 
verted to God, but a habitual drunkard have I 
never known converted.' " Mr. Wesley says, " But 
I have known five hundred, perhaps five thou- 
sand." * From this it is evident that the Gospel 
reformed thousands of drunkards long before the 
formation of temperance societies and the modern 
pledge of total abstinence. 

* Wesley's Sermons, vol. ii, p. 92. 


Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

John Wesley and the Notorious Drunkard. 

A notorious drunkard was converted under Wes- 
ley's preaching in Manchester, and joined the Meth- 
odists. Some time after a conspiracy was formed 
among his old associates to entrap and overthrow 
him. They succeeded. He was induced to take 
one glass, then another, still another, till he be- 
came intoxicated ; then they set up a shout, u See, 
here is a Methodist drunk ! " By some strange 
philosophy this exclamation sobered him. Imme- 
diately he arose and walked directly to the fellow 
who first urged him to drink, and knocked him 
over, chair and all. He then drove the whole 
company out of the house, then took up the land- 
lady who had sold the drink, carried her out, and 
threw her into the hog-pen, then returned to the 
house and smashed the bottles, demolished the 
bar, kicked down the door, and walked off. He 
afterward reformed. 

The Drunkard and his Wife. 

John Wesley was preaching at Xewark to a 
congregation of some three thousand, when a large 
man, who was drunk, began to make disturbance. 
The preacher and his audience were greatly dis- 
turbed -by him for a short time. The drunkard's 
wife was present. Without saying a word she left 
her seat, walked directly up to him, took him by 
the collar, shook him, and then cuffed his ears 

Anecdotes of tJie Wesley s. 207 

most unmercifully till he cried like a whipped 
child. Finally the poor fellow, after receiving such 
a whipping, got out of her hands, crept away to a 
retired corner of the congregation and sat down as 
quiet as a lamb, and Mr. "Wesley finished his ser- 
mon without further annoyance. 

The Enraged Man. 

A man who was a hater of the truth and its 
messengers pressed through a crowd at Dewsbury, 
where Mr. Wesley was preaching, and struck him 
a violent blow with the palm of his hand upon the 
cheek. The apostolic Wesley, recollecting the pre- 
cepts of his Master, showed no resentment, but, ex- 
hibiting the meekness and the gentleness of Christ, 
while the tears rolled down his face, turned the 
other cheek to him. The man, instead of smit- 
ing it, was so overawed that he immediately re- 
tired, and hid himself among the crowd. From 
that circumstance, instead of being an enemy, he 
became an admirer of Mr. Wesley, and a great 
friend of Methodism. He showed his high regard 
for it by endangering his own life to save one of 
its chapels from destruction by fire. 

The Ingenious Man. 

Mr. Wesley says he spent an hour very agreea- 
bly with a man remarkable for Lilliputian inven- 

208 Anecdotes of the Wesley s, 

tions, spending all his time in making some minute 
and curious machine. Mr. Wesley said he had 
no doubt but the ingenious artist could surpass all 
competitors in inventing a mouse-trap. 

The Lord of the Stable. 

Mr. Wesley when in Scotland put up at an inn. 
The waiting-maid said to him, " Sir, the lord of 
the stable waits to know if he shall feed your 
horses." " This," thought Mr. Wesley, " must be 
a great country for titles where the hostler is 
called c the lord of the stable. 5 " 

The Backslider. 

Mr. Wesley, in December, 1749, wrote thus: 
" I saw an uncommon instance both of the justice 
and the mercy of God. Abraham Jones, a serious, 
thinking man, about fifty years of age, was one of 
the first members of the Society in London, and an 
early witness of the power of God to forgive sins. 
He then stood as a pillar for several years, and 
was a blessing to all that were around him, till, 
growing wise in his own eyes, he saw this and the 
other person wrong, and was almost continually 
offended. He then grew colder and colder, till at 
length, in order to renew his friendship with the 
world, he went (which he had refused to do for 
many years) to a parish feast, and stayed there till 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 


midnight. Returning home perfectly sober, just 
by his own door he fell and broke his leg. When 
the surgeon came he found the bone so shattered 
that it could not be set. Then it was, when 
he perceived he could not live, that the terrors 
of the Lord again came about him. We prayed 
for him, in full confidence that God would return ; 
and he did in part reveal himself again. He had 
many gleams of hope and love ; till, in two or three 
days, his soul was required of him. So awful a 
providence was immediately made known to the 
Society, and contributed not a little to awakening 
them that slept, and stirring up those who were 
faint in their mind." Mr. Wesley preached his 
funeral sermon on the danger of looking back after 
having put one's hand to the plow. 

Wesley and his Power. 

Several gentlemen were offended at the great 
power of Wesley over his societies. Mr. Wesley re- 
replied, " I did not seek any part of it. But when it 
has come unawares, not daring to bury that talent, 
I used it to the best of my judgment. Yet I never 
was fond of it. I always did, and do now, bear it 
as my burden, the burden which God lays upon 
me, and therefore I dare not lay it down. Xow, 
if you can tell me of any five men to whom I 
can transfer this burden, and who can and will 
do just what I do now, I will heartily thank both 
them and you." 


210 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

Wesley's Rough Journey. 

Mr. Wesley had many a rough journey, as he 
traveled thousands of miles a year ; but in Febru- 
ary, 1745, he made a journey to Newcastle, in the 
stormy and wintry weather, that transcended them 
all. The following from his Journal shows the 
cheerful spirit with which he endured it : " Many a 
rough journey have I had before, but one like this 
I never had ; between wind, and hail, and rain, and 
ice, and snow, and driving sleet, and piercing cold. 
But it is past. Those days will return no more, 
and are, therefore, as though they had never been. 

" Pain, disappointment, sickness, strife, 
Whate'er molests or troubles life, 
However grievous in its stay 
It shakes the tenement of clay 
When past, as nothing we esteem ; 
And pain, like pleasure, is a dream." 

The Fault-finder. 

In 1753 Mr. Wesley received a letter from a 
carping, fault-finding man. The following repiy 
shows how meekly he could take reproof, and with 
how patient a temper he could deal with peevish 
and complaining men. " You give," says he, " the 
reason why Rev. Mr. P. will not come among 
us: 1. 'Because we despise the ministers of the 
Church of England.' This I flatly deny. I am 
answering letters this very post which bitterly 
blame me for just the contrary. 2. ' Because so 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 211 

much backbiting and evil-speaking is suffered 
among our people.' It is not suffered ; all possible 
means are used both to prevent and remove it. 
3. 6 Because I, who have written so much against 
hoarding up money, have put out seven hundred 
pounds to interest.' I never put sixpence out to 
interest since I was born ; nor had I ever one hun- 
dred pounds together of my own since I came into 
the world. 4. c Because our lay-preachers have told 
many stories of my brother and me.' If they did 
I am sorry for them ; when I hear the particulars 
I can answer them. 5. 4 Because we did not help 
a friend in distress.' We did help as far as we 
were able. 'But we might have made his case 
known to Mr. G., Lady H.,' etc. So we did, more 
than once; but we could not pull money from 
them whether they would or no. Therefore these 
reasons are of no weight. You conclude with 
praying that God would remove pride and malice 
from among us. Of pride, I have too much ; of 
malice I have none. However, the prayer is good, 
and I thank you for it." 

— — — — 

Wesley and Dr. Dodd. 

Dr. William Dodd was a popular preacher and 
writer. He wrote a Commentary on the Bible, 
and many other works. But he was vain and ex- 
travagant, and in an evil hour he committed forgery 
upon the Earl of Chesterfield in order to relieve 
himself from pecuniary embarrassments. He was 

212 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

tried, convicted, and sentenced to be hung. The 
utmost sympathy was felt for him, and great efforts 
were made in order to have him pardoned, but all 
in yain. 

Mr. Wesley had no personal acquaintance with 
Dr. Dodd until after the publication, by the lat- 
ter, of certain strictures on Mr. Wesley's views of 
Christian Perfection. The controversy between 
them was conducted in a candid, Christian spirit, 
and seems to have had a favorable effect on the 
mind of Dr. Dodd. 

Many years after, when Dr. Dodd was in prison, 
he sent for Mr. Wesley, whom he had never seen. 
Mr. Wesley, supposing that the Doctor wished 
him to intercede with great men on his behalf, and 
believing it would be of no avail, delayed going. 
Dr. Dodd sent the third messenger after him. The 
gentleman said, " Sir, I will not go without you." 
Mr. Wesley then went with him to the prison. The 
keeper said, " Sir, of all the prisoners that have 
been in this place, I have not seen such a one as 
Dr. Dodd." When Mr. Wesley entered his cell he 
found the Doctor was in bed sick of a fever. They 
were both silent for some time; at last, with a 
tremulous voice and throbbing heart, the Doctor 
said, " Sir, I have long desired to see you ; but 
I little thought our first interview would be in such 
a place as this." Mr. Wesley replied : " Sir, I am 
persuaded God saw this was the best, if not the only 
way, of bringing you to himself, and I trust it will 
have that happy effect." Full of emotion, Dr. Dodd 
exclaimed, with tearful eye and wonderful em- 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 213 

phasis, " God grant it may ! God grant it may ! " 
They conversed together about an hour, and it was 
all about his own soul, whose salvation the Doctor 
regarded above every thing else. He said not a 
word to Mr. Wesley about using his extensive in- 
fluence to try to get him acquitted. He seemed 
I to feel 

" Nothing is worth a thought beneath, 
But how I may escape the death 

That never, never dies ! 
How make my own election sure ; 
And when I fail on earth, secure 

A mansion in the skies." 

Mr. Wesley made him several other visits after he 
was removed to Newgate, and after he was sen- 
tenced to be hung. Mr. Wesley was surprised on 
entering that house of woe to find it so quiet, as if 
the felons did not wish to disturb Dr. Dodd. They 
talked only on spiritual things. He says the Doc- 
tor never blamed any one but himself, and he 
showed not the least resentment to any man, re- 
ceiving every thing as at the hands of God. 

Two days before his death Mr. Wesley paid him 
his last visit. As they were talking Mrs. Dodd 
came in, and when she came near him she sunk 
down under a load of grief too heavy to be borne. 
The Doctor caught her in his arms and earned 
her to a chair. He had such command over him- 
self that he did not shed a tear, being afraid to add 
to her distress. Mr. Wesley then said to him, 
" Sir, I think you do not ask enough or expect 
\ enough, from God your Saviour. The present 


Anecdotes of trie Wesley s 

blessing you may expect from him is to be filled 
with all joy, as well as peace in believing." " O, 
sir," replied Dr. Dodd, " it is not for such a sinner 
as me to expect any joy in this world; the utmost 
I can desire is peace, and through the mercy of 
God that I have." Mr. Wesley and he then prayed 
together, and Mr. Wesley solemnly commended his 
soul to God. 

Mr. Wesley gives the following account of the 
closing scene : " On Friday morning all the prisoners 
were gathered together, when Dr. Dodd came down 
into the court. He was composed. But when he 
saw most of them lifting up their hands, praying 
for him, blessing him, and weeping aloud, he was 
melted down, burst into tears, and prayed God to 
bless them all. When he came out of the gate an 
innumerable multitude were waiting, many of whom 
seemed ready to insult him. But the moment 
they saw him their hearts were changed, and they 
began to bless him and pray for him too. One of 
his fellow-prisoners seemed to be in utter despair. 
Dr. Dodd, forgetting himself, labored to comfort 
him, and strongly applied the promises. After 
some time spent in prayer he pulled his cap over 
his eyes, and sinking down seemed to die in a 
moment. I make no doubt but at that moment 
the angels were ready to carry him into Abra- 
ham's bosom." 

Charles Wesley visited him also in company 
with his brother, and wrote a poetic prayer for 
him fall of tenderness that showed the sympathetic 
feelings of his heart. 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 215 

Miss Bosanquet, afterward the wife of Rev. John 
Fletcher, carried on a regular correspondence with 
him concerning the salvation of his soul. 

June 25, 1777, the Doctor wrote to her thus: 
" My dear friend, on Friday morning I am to be 
made immortal ! I die with a heart truly contrite 
and broken under a sense of its great and manifold 
offenses, but comforted and sustained by a firm 
faith in the pardoning love of Jesus Christ." He 
also made this request, that she would " remember 
his excellent but most afflicted partner in distress." 
She would have done it, but Mrs. Dodd's afflictions 
were so great reason was dethroned, and she soon 
after died a maniac. A sad conclusion has this 
sad tale of guilt and woe. 

John Wesley and Silas Told. 

The name of Howard is immortal, yet few know 
the name of Silas Told, the prisoner's friend, the 
good Samaritan of London. His history is full of 
interest. In early life he was a sailor, ship- 
wrecked, taken prisoner by pirates, and spent years 
amid the horrors and miseries of the slave-trade. 
Afterward he married and settled in London, and 
did business there. He was introduced to the 
Methodists at the Foundery, which gave a turn to 
his life, and made him an angel of mercy, whose 
deeds brought upon him the blessings of those who 
were ready to perish. One day a young man who 
was a Methodist applied to Told for employment, 
and he answered him rudely. The young man 

216 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

bore tJie rebuff with so meek and gentle a spirit 
that it affected the heart of Told. He called the 
young man back and gave him employment. The 
youth persuaded his employer to go and hear Mr. 
Wesley preach at the Foundery. He did so, and 
Told and his wife were converted and joined the 
Methodists. Mr. Wesley persuaded him to take 
care of a few charity children who had been 
brought into the Foundery. More than seven years 
he was employed in this angel-like work, training 
nearly three hundred boys, most of whom were 
fitted for almost any trade. In order to do this 
he sacrificed his business, and received ten shillings 
a week for his salary. 

Mr. Wesley had ever been the prisoner's friend. 
One Sabbath morning he preached at five o'clock 
at the Foundery from " I was sick and in prison 
and ye visited me," Told was there with his 
scholars. The text melted his heart and the ser- 
mon thrilled his soul, and he resolved to devote 
his time and talents for the benefit of the prisoner. 
For more than thirty years he did it, and was wel- 
comed into all the prisons while engaged in his 
benevolent work. He attended not only to the 
bodies but the souls of the prisoners. At the age 
of seventy he was still engaged in his blessed 
work, and died in 1778. 

Mr. Wesley makes this record in his Journal, 
20th of December, 1778 : "I buried what was mor- 
tal of honest Silas Told. For many years he at- 
tended the malefactors in Newgate without fee or 
reward, and I suppose no man for this hundred 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 217 

years has been so successful in that melancholy 
office. God had given him peculiar talents for it, 
and he had amazino; success therein. The greatest 
part of those whom he attended died in peace, and 
many of them in the triumph of faith." Noble 
eulogy from lips unused to flattery. 

John Wesley and Dr. Johnson. 

The gifted Mrs. Hall, Mr. Wesley's sister, was 
very intimate with Dr. Samuel Johnson, who was 
a great admirer of her genius and talents. Dr. 
Johnson requested her to procure him an interview 
with her brother, John Wesley. Mrs. Hall did so, 
and a day was accordingly appointed for him to 
dine with the Doctor at his residence at Salisbury 
Court. Dr. Johnson conformed to Mr. Wesley's 
hours, and appointed two o'clock. The dinner, 
however, was not ready till three. They con- 
versed till that time. Mr. Wesley had set apart 
two hours to spend with his learned host. In con- 
sequence of this he rose up as soon as dinner was 
ended and departed. The Doctor was extremely 
disappointed, and conld not conceal his mortifica- 
tion. Mrs. Hall said, " Why, Doctor, my brother 
has been with you two hours." He replied, " Two 
hours, madam ! I could talk all day, and all night 
too, with your brother." 

This anecdote illustrates John Wesley's agree- 
able companionship, his living by rule, and his 
redemption of time. Boswell, the biographer of 

218 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

Johnson, says the Doctor observed to him, " John 
Wesley's conversation is good, but he is never at 
leisure. He is always obliged to go at a certain 
hour. This is very disagreeable to a man who 
loves to fold his legs and have his talk out, as I do." 

John Wesley and the Redemption of Time. 

John Wesley while waiting at a door was heard 
to say, " I have lost ten minutes forever !" A per- 
son said to him on a certain occasion, " Mr. Wes- 
ley, you need not be in a hurry." "A hurry! 
Xo ; I have no time to be in a hurry," replied Mr. 
Wesley. His maxim was, M Always in haste, but 
never in a hurry." He said, " Leisure and I have 
taken leave of each other." 

John Fletcher said of Wesley, "Though op- 
pressed with the weight of nearly seventy years, and 
the care of nearly thirty thousand souls, he shamed 
still by his unabated zeal and immense labors all 
the young ministers perhaps of Christendom. He 
has generally blown the Gospel trumpet and rode 
twenty miles before most of the professors who de- 
spise his labors have left their downy pillows." 

John Wesley and Edward Bolton. 

Edward Bolton, of Witney, was favored with 
the friendship of the Wesley s, and his house was 
their home. Mr. Bolton was a respectable Local 
Preacher, and he often accompanied John Wesley 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 219 

in his journeys. He was present at the celebrated 
Conference of 1771, which gave birth to John 
Fletcher's Checks to Antinomianism. Mr. Bolton 
was a perfect chronicle of Methodism, and delighted 
to dwell upon its early struggles and triumphs. 
With admiration he would speak of the excellen- 
ces of the revered founder of Methodism, and he 
would oft exclaim, with all the pathos of sincerest 
love, " Taking him for all and all, I ne'er shall look 
upon his like again ! " Mr. Wesley visited him, and 
was in the parlor reading and writing as was his 
custom, for he was always redeeming the time. Mr. 
Bolton wished to enjoy his society and engage in 
conversation, so he began by saying, " How much 
more pleasant it is to be in the country than in 
London; all is silent, all retired, and no disti act- 
ing voices of the busy multitude intrude them- 
selves." "True, Neddy," replied Mr. Wesley, 
with his usual quickness, " but noisy thoughts 
may." Mr. Bolton took the hint, and was silent 
till Mr. Wesley had finished his work, and was 
ready for conversation.* 

John Wesley and Grace Murray. 

Grace Murray was one of John Wesley's spirit- 
ual children. She was a widow, young and beau- 
tiful, with a superior education. Mr. Wesley 
appointed her matron of the Orphan House at 
Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Afterward, at Mr. Wes- 

* Wesleyan Magazine. 1819. 


Anecdotes of the IVesleys. 

ley's request, she traveled through the northern 
counties to meet and regulate the female classes. 
Like other itinerants of those days she traveled on 
horseback. An eye-witness said he saw her take 
leave at a house door in Yorkshire. Her horse 
was waiting, and as she came out, a glance of her 
eye told her all was right. She needed no assist- 
ance, but, laying her hand upon the intelligent beast, 
whiqh knelt to receive her, sprang into the saddle, 
waved her hand, and in a moment was out of sight. 

Xone will venerate the memory of John Wesley 
less if we say he loved Grace Murray, and had a 
desire she should become his wife. They were en- 
gaged to be married ; but his brother Charles and 
Whitefield were opposed to his marrying at all, 
and took steps which were but too successful to 
induce her to marry another. John Bennet was 
one of Mr. Wesley's early preachers and was very 
successful. He afterward separated from Mr. Wes- 
ley's societies, became a Calvinist, and the pastor 
of an independent Church in Cheshire. He had 
once been sick of a fever and Grace Murray nursed 
him, and from that period he desired she should 
become his wife. Favored with the influence of 
Charles Wesley and of Whitefleld, he succeeded 
in winning Grace ; she having been persuaded by 
these influential friends that her marrying John 
Wesley would in all probability lessen his useful- 
ness in the itinerancy. John Wesley felt the dis- 
appointment most keenly. He poured out the sor- 
rows of his heart not only in prose but in verse. 
In one of his (till lately unpublished) letters he 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 221 

says, " The sons of Zeruiah were too strong for 
me. The whole world fought against me, but 
above all my own familiar friend. Then was ful- 
filled, ' Son of man, behold I take from thee the 
desire of thine eyes at a stroke, yet shall not thou 
lament, neither shall thy tears run down.' The 
fatal, irrecoverable stroke was struck on Thurs- 
day last. Yesterday I saw my friend that was, 
and him to whom she is sacrificed. Nearly thirty 
years after her husband's death Air. "Wesley, who 
had never mentioned her name since her marriage, 
went at her own request to see her. He spent a 
short time with her, and after this interview never 
mentioned her name. In 1803 she died, and Jabez 
Bunting, who had known her for many years, 
preached her funeral sermon from Psalm xxvii, 
13, 14. 

John Wesley and Mrs. Vizelle, 

Many of the Wesley family were unfortunate in 
their marriage, and John was among the number. 
When about fifty years of age Mr. Wesley mar- 
ried a Mrs. Vizelle. She was a widow, intelligent 
and wealthy. She seemed very religious, and ap- 
peared to be admirably adapted to make him an 
excellent wife. However, she was not what she 
appeared to be, and he was greatly disappointed. 
After having caused him twenty years of disquie 
tude she suddenly left, never intending to return. 
Finding this was her determination, Mr. Wesley 
wrote in his Journal, " I did not forsake her, I did 
not dismiss her, I will not recall her." 

222 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

Wesley, the Young Woman, and the Snow-storm. 

On a Sabbath evening when John Wesley 
preached at jSTorth Shields, a young woman, one 
of the singers, remained at home in consequence 
of a snow-storm. On Monday evening, on her 
way to the chapel, she called at the house of the 
leader of the choir, and was there introduced to 
Wesley. She was questioned by her friend as to 
her absence the preceding night, and at once stated 
the cause. Wesley appeared to take no notice of 
the conversation, but when leaving the house, lay- 
ing his hand upon her shoulder, mildly said, " So, 
Miss, you were afraid of the snow." She followed 
him to the chapel, took her seat in front of the pul- 
pit, and not expecting any further reproof from the 
good old man, looked him directly in the face and 
waited anxiously for the text. Great was her sur- 
prise when, with his characteristic solemnity and 
emphasis, he read for the theme of his discourse 
Proverbs xxxi, 21, " She is not afraid of the snow." 
This ingenious reproof was not forgotten. The 
countenance of the venerable minister, his manner, 
his voice, and his sermon, left impressions on her 
mind that were not obliterated by all the chang 
ing scenes of life. 

John Wesley and the Legacy. 

John Wesley had greatly benefited, sjDiritually, 
Miss Lewen, of Leytonstone. Her health was very 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 


poor, and her father told Mr. Wesley he had done 
her more good than all the physicians. Miss 
Lewen was a most estimable young lady, of deep 
and ardent piety, and possessing much of this 
world's goods. Mr. Wesley's favorite mode of 
traveling was on horseback until he was between 
sixty and seventy years of age. In December, 
1765, his horse fell and injured him very much. 
At that time the young lady gave him a chaise 
and a pair of horses. She died soon after, and be- 
queathed to Mr. Wesley one thousand pounds. 
Christopher Hopper informed Mr. Wesley of the 
legacy, and suggested the application of the whole 
or a part to the Orphan House in Newcastle, as 
Mr. Whitefield had acted in a similar case in 
Georgia. Three days before her death Mr. Wesley 
replied to Mr. Hopper thus : " Miss Lewin's will 
probably will be a nine days' wonder. Mr. White- 
field acted according to the light he had, but I 
durst not have done so because I am God's stew- 
ard for the poor." Mr. Wesley says : " I found it 
needful to hasten to Leytonstone, but I came too 
late. Miss Lewen died the day before, witnessing 
that good confession — 

'Nature's last agony is o'er. 
And cruel sin subsists no more,' 

So died Margaret Lewen, a pattern to all young 
women of fortune in England, a real Bible Chris- 
tian. She rests from her labors, and her works do 
follow her." * 

* Journal, Nov. 31, 1776. 

224 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

The next year the legacy was received, and in- 
stead of keeping it for himself every pound was 
given away, making many hearts to rejoice. His 
benevolence knew no bounds but an empty 

Thomas Olivers says : u Hundreds and thou- 
sands are forever draining Mr. Wesley's pocket to 
the last shilling, as those about him are eye-wit- 
nesses, those in particular who a few years ago 
saw and experienced his generosity in giving away 
by fifties and by hundreds the thousand pounds 
left him by Miss Lewen." In reply to his sister, 
Mrs. Hall, he wrote, " You do not consider money 
never stays with me y it would burn me if it did. 
I throw it out of my hands as soon as possible lest 
it should find a way into my heart ; therefore you 
should have spoken to me in London before Miss 
Le wen's money flew away," etc. 

John Wesley and the History of England- 
He published a History of England, and made 
two hundred pounds by the sale of that work, and 
he said to Thomas Olivers, as he informed him of 
his profits, " But as life is uncertain I will take 
care to dispose of it before the end of the week ;" 
which he accordingly did. 

We have another illustration of his benevolence. 
John Atlay, the Book Steward, said on a certain 
occasion, " We must stop printing for awhile, for 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 225 

Mr. Wesley gives away his money so fast that I 
have none left for printing or paper." * 

John Wesley and Poor Louisa. 

In 1776 a young woman stopped at a village near 
Bristol, and begged the refreshment of a little milk. 
There was something so attractive in her appearance 
as to engage the attention of all around. Her man- 
ners were graceful, and her countenance interesting ; 
indeed, her whole deportment bore visible marks 
of superior breeding ; but there was a wildness in 
her look, and a want of consistency in all she said 
and did. As she could not be induced to make 
knowm her name, she was called Louisa. All day 
she wandered about, and at night took up her lodg- 
ing under an old hay-stack. Many ladies expostu- 
lated with her on the danger of so exposed a situa- 
tion, but all in vain. Their bounty supplied her with 
the necessaries of life, but no means or entrea- 
ties could induce her to sleep in a house. As she 
at times exhibited evident symptoms of insanity, 
she was at length placed in St. Peter's Hospital at 
Bristol. She soon made her escape, and flew to 
her favorite hay-stack, six miles away. Some years 
after she was placed under the care of Mr. Hen- 
derson, who kept a private house for insane per- 
sons near Bristol. Mr. Wesley heard of her, and on 
the 25th of March, 1782, went to see her. In his 
journal he says : " In the afternoon I called at Mr. 

* Wesleyan Magazine for Dec, 1845, page 1,165. 


226 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

Henderson's, and spent some time with poor dis- 
consolate Louisa. Such a sight in the space of 
fourteen years, I never saw before. Pale and 
wan, worn with sorrow, beaten with wind and 
rain, having been so long exposed to all weathers, 
with her hair rough and frizzled, and only a 
blanket wrapped round her, her native beauty 
gleamed through all. Her features were small 
and finely turned, her eyes had a peculiar sweet- 
ness, her arms and fingers were delicately shaped, 
and her voice soft and agreeable ; but her under- 
standing was in ruins. She appeared partly insane, 
partly silly and childish. She would answer no 
question concerning herself, only that her name 
was Louisa. She seemed to take no notice of any 
person or thing, and seldom spoke above a word 
or two at a time. Some time since a gentleman 
called, who said he came two hundred miles on 
purpose to inquire after her. When he saw her 
face he trembled exceedingly ; but all he said was, 
" She was born in Germany, and is now twenty- 
four years old." 

He spoke to her in French. She appeared rest- 
less, uneasy, and embarrassed; but when he ad- 
dressed her in German her emotion was too great 
to be suppressed. She turned from him and burst 
into tears. 

The 15th of September the following year he 
made her another visit, and says : " I went over to 
Hannam once more and saw poor disconsolate 
Louisa wrapping herself up naked in her blanket, 
and not caring to speak to any one. The late 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


pretty story of her being the Emperor's daughter 
is doubtless a mere catch-penny, and her twenty- 
four examinations are as credible as Moham- 
med's journey through seventy thousand heavens." 
Having remained there several years under the 
care of Mr. Henderson, supported by a subscrip- 
tion made by Mrs. Hannah More, she was then 
removed to Guy's Hospital, where death came to 
the relief of poor Louisa December 19, 1801. An 
appropriate epitaph was placed upon her tomb- 

Not only the poor, the prisoner, the stranger, 
but the insane shared in Wesley's sympathy and 
his bounty. Can any thing be more touching 
than his interviews with poor disconsolate Louisa ? 
To behold the man of over fourscore years again 
and again visiting this one, beautiful in ruins, try- 
ing to pour rays of heavenly light into a mind suf- 
fering an eclipse, was a scene that must have glad- 
dened the eyes of angels. 

John Wesley and Sophia Cooke. 

Sophia Cooke was a very superior young woman, 
who from early life enjoyed the personal friendship 
of John Wesley. For two years she lived in his 
house at City Road. She reports his morning 
salutation, uttered with a smile, and with great 
cheerfulness, " Sophy, live to-day." What a vol- 
ume in three little words ! Mr. Wesley delighted 

228 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

to express himself in pithy sayings. She took his 
advice, and made the most of each day. Years 
after he had gone to rest she heard the echoes of 
his voice ringing in her ear, saying, " Live to-day." 
She had the high honor of being, indirectly, the 
founder of modern Sunday-schools. She was born 
in Gloucester, England, the native place of Robert 
Raikes, and was well acquainted with him. Miss 
Cooke first suggested to Mr. Raikes the plan of 
Sabbath-school instruction. 

He saw a number of ragged children in the 
street, and said to Sophia, " What shall we do for 
these poor neglected children ? " She answered, 
"Let us teach them to read, and take them to 
Church." Mr. Raikes and Miss Cooke conducted 
the first company of Sunday scholars to the church, 
exposed to public laughter as they passed along 
the street with their unpromising charge. What 
grand results have followed. "The handful of 
corn has shaken like Lebanon, and they of the 
city are as grass." 

Mr. Raikes began his Sunday-school with Miss 
Cooke in 1784, and in January, 1785, Mr. Wesley 
published an account of it in the " Arminian Mag- 
azine," and exhorted his societies to imitate his 
laudable example. 

The noble young woman became the wife of the 
Rev. Samuel Bradburn, one of the finest orators 
Wesleyan Methodism ever produced. She sur- 
vived her husband many years, and died in tri- 
umph March, 1834, aged seventy-five. 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 229 

John Wesley and the Little Child. 

John Wesley visited Rathby and preached in 
the church. As he ascended the pulpit a child sat 
on the steps, directly in the way. Instead of in- 
quiring, "Why is that child allowed to sit there?" 
he gently took the little one in his arms, kissed it, 
and then placed it on the same spot where it had 
been sitting. 

How like the good Shepherd, who takes the 
lambs in his arms and carries them in his bosom ! 
Some ministers would have said, " What is that 
young one doing here ? Take that child out of 
the way." 

John Wesley was pre-eminently a disciple of 
love. Harshness and austerity of spirit, with man- 
ners rough and rude, were as alien to his nature 
as light to darkness. 

John Wesley and Matthias Joyce. 

Matthias Joyce, a Papist, one of the vilest of the 
vile, went to hear Mr. Wesley preach in Dublin, 
and though he did not understand him, says : " His 
hoary hairs and grave deportment commanded my 
respect and gained my affections. What endeared 
him to me still more was seeing him stoop down 
and kiss a little child that sat upon the pulpit 
stairs." That kiss melted his hard heart, and he 
became one of Mr. Wesley's itinerant ministers, 
useful in life, triumphant in death. 

230 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

John Wesley and the Little Boy. 

Dr. Liefchild, at a missionary meeting in Leeds, 
said, " Few present remember John Wesley ; I am 
one of that few, and I think I have had a greater 
privilege than any one present. Mr. Wesley was in 
the habit of stopping at my father's house on his 
visits to my native town. On one of these visits 
early one morning (you know Mr. Wesley was a 
very early riser) I went up to him and gently 
pulled his dressing-gown in order to attract his 
attention. My father very sharply reproved me ; 
but Mr. Wesley put his hand upon my head and 
said, ' Suffer little children to come unto me,' and 
he took me up in his arms and blessed me. None 
ever obeyed the command, 'Feed my lambs,' 
more than Mr. Wesley." 

John Wesley and the Inquiring Preacher. 

The death of Methodism has often been pre- 
dicted, and there has been much anxiety felt (out- 
side of it) concerning its future. Mr. Wesley had 
no desire for its continuance unless its spirit was 
perpetuated. Near the close of his life a traveling 
preacher inquired of him, " What advice have you 
to give in order to perpetuate the great revival of 
religion in which you have been the principal in- 
strument?" He answered, "Take care of the 
rising generation." 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


John Wesley and the Little Girl. 

It has been well said that he that makes a child 
happy for half an hour is a co-worker with God. 
John Wesley, in visiting Birmingham, was fre- 
quently entertained at the house of John Mason. 
They had a little girl who afterward became the 
wife of a Methodist minister. Mr. Wesley would 
often seat her on his knee, place his hand upon her 
head, give her his blessing, and simply give her 
such wise counsels as she could understand ; these 
made an indelible impression upon her heart. He 
once presented her with a bright sixpence, which 
she preserved to the day of her death. Mr. Wes- 
ley used to keep a number of fresh coins by him, 
the newest and brightest, on purpose to please the 
taste of the lambs of his flock. 

John Wesley and the Children. 

Wesley was emphatically the children's friend. 
He caught largely of the spirit and waiked in the 
footsteps of Him who took them in his arms, whis- 
pered blessings in their ear, and declared " of such 
is the kingdom of heaven." Fifty years before 
Robert Raikes began his work John Wesley was 
catechising all the children in Savannah on Sundays 
before the evening service. It was under him the 
Sunday-school system was first fully developed. 
"At Bolton," in July, 1787, he says, "there are 
eight hundred poor children taught in our Sunday- 

232 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

schools by about eighty masters, who recive no pay 
but what they are to receive from the great Master. 
In the evening several children hovering round 
the house, I desired forty or fifty to come in and 

1 Vital spark of heavenly flame.' 

Although some of them were 'silent, not being able 
to sing for tears ; yet the harmony was such as 
I believe could not be equaled in the king's chapel.*' 
A few months later we have a glowing description 
of a Sunday-school review in the same place, at 
which between nine hundred and a thousand schol- 
ars were present. The melody of these juvenile 
voices, he thought, could be exceeded only by the 
" singing of angels in our Father's house." He 
adds : " Such a sight I never saw before ; all were 
serious and well-behaved." His Journal is full of 
similar proofs of his love and sympathy for chil- 
dren, and the Kingswood school is a standing 
monument of his affection for them. 

Wesley was very popular with the children of 
his day. His benignant countenance they loved to 
gaze upon and to receive his apostolic benediction, 
therefore it was common to find u all the street 
lined with these little ones " waiting to greet him 
with glad smiles and joyous welcome. He says, 
" Before preaching they only ran round me and 
before ; but after it a whole troop, boys and girls, 
closed me in, and would not be content till I shook 
each of them by the hand." 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 233 

Conscience and Interest. 

John Hyett of Woolwich early became a Meth- 
odist, (1746.) He was in humble circumstances in 
life when he identified himself with Methodism. 
He had a rich uncle who had a great hatred to the 
Methodists. He said to him one day, " John, it is 
my intention to make you my heir, and leave you 
the bulk of my property ; but understand, it is on 
the express condition that you have nothing more 
to do with the Methodists. If you continue with 
them I will leave you only one shilling." Soon 
after this conversation John Hyett had an inter- 
view with Mr. Wesley, to whom he communicated 
his uncle's proposition, and asked his opinion how 
he ought to act in the business. Mr. Wesley said, 
" John, you have a family to provide for, you have 
a difficult world to struggle with, and you have 
now the means before you of providing for your 
family ; but, John, you have a soul to save. And 
having said this much, I leave you to act as you 
think proper." John looked at it in the light of two 
worlds, counting the cost and weighing the issues. 
Soon after John Hyett saw his uncle again, who 
desired to know to what conclusion he had come. 
His reply was, " I am unwilling to give you of- 
fense, but I cannot sacrifice my principle for the 
sake of gain." Xoble conclusion ; one that angels 
will applaud and the Prince of peace approve. 
Some years after the wealthy uncle died, and John 
attended his funeral. On reading the will there 
was only one shilling bequeathed to John. In 


Anecdotes of the Weslej/s. 

due time he received the legacy, and the first op- 
portunity he threw it into the collection for the 
poor. His wants were richly supplied, and his 
descendants move in a respectable circle near Lon- 
don. John Hyett, who made such sacrifices for 
the cause of Jesus, has long since known the mean- 
ing of those beautiful words of the Saviour : " And 
every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, 
or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, 
or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive a hun- 
dredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life." * 


John Wesley and Mr. Cordeux. 

In July, 1766, Mr. Wesley visited York, where 
the Rev. Mr. Cordeux was incumbent of St. Sav- 
iour's. He warned his congregation against hearing 
" that vagabond Wesley preach." Mr. Wesley on 
Sunday morning went to St. Saviour's Church 
dressed in his canonicals. The minister in the 
course of reading the prayers saw a strange cler- 
gyman, and sent an officer to invite him to take 
the pulpit. He accepted the invitation, and 
preached from the Gospel of the day, (Matt, vii, 
21,) " Not every one that saith," etc. After serv- 
ice the Vicar asked the clerk if he knew who the 
stranger was. " Sir," said he, " he is the vagabond 
Wesley, of whom you warned us." " Ay, in- 
deed," was the reply, " we are trapped ; but never 
mind, we had a good sermon." The Dean heard 
* Weslevan Magazine. 1329, page 247. 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 235 

of the affair, and threatened to lay a complaint 
before the Archbishop. Mr. Cordeux, afraid of 
the consequences, took an early opportunity to 
inform his Grace that he had allowed Mr. Wesley 
to occupy his pulpit. " And you did right," said 
the Prelate. Some years after Mr. Cordeux in- 
vited Mr. Wesley to occupy his pulpit again. He 
preached from the eight beatitudes. An aged dis- 
ciple who was present says Mr. Wesley dwelt 
mostly on these words : " Blessed are they who 
are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is 
the kingdom of heaven and said, " Perhaps no 
man in England knows more of what this means 
than I do." * 

John Wesley and the Woman who was a Sinner. 

The following touching story shows us the power 
of the Gospel, the power of divine grace, and the 
tender, pathetic spirit that beat in the bosom of 
John Wesley ; we are by it reminded of our Lord'b 
interview with a woman who was a sinner, to whom 
he said, " Go in peace, and sin no more." Mr. 
Wesley had been disappointed of a room at Grims- 
by, and when the appointed hour for public wor- 
ship came the rain prevented him preaching. In 
the perplexity which this occasioned a convenient 
place was offered him to preach in by " a woman 
who was a sinner." He knew nothing of the char- 
acter of the woman, but accepted her invitation to 
* Wesleyan Magazine, 1827, page 458. 

236 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

preach at her house. She listened to hin* atten- 
tively, but without any apparent emotion. But in 
the evening he preached eloquently upon the sins 
and faith of her who washed our Lord's feet with 
her tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her 
head, and that discourse touched her to the heart. 
She followed him to his lodging, crying out, " O, 
sir, what must I do to be saved ? " Mr. Wesley, 
who now understood that she had forsaken her 
husband and was living in adultery, replied, " Es- 
cape for your life ; return instantly to your hus- 
band. 57 She said she knew not how to go. She 
had just heard from him, and he was at Newcas- 
tle, above a hundred miles off. Mr. Wesley said 
he was going to Newcastle the next morning, and 
she might go with him, and his traveling compan- 
ion should take her behind him. It was late in 
October. She performed the journey under this 
protection, and in a state of mind adapted to her 
condition. " During our whole journey," he says, 
" I scarce observed her to smile, nor did she ever 
complain of any thing, or appear moved in the 
least with those trying circumstances which many 
times occurred in our way. A. steady seriousness, 
or sadness rather, appeared in her whole behavior 
and conversation, as became one that felt the bur- 
den of sin, and was groaning after salvation." 
" Glory be to the Friend of sinners ! " he exclaimed 
as he related the story, " he has plucked one more 
brand out of the fire ! Thou, poor sinner, thou 
hast received a prophet in the name of a prophet, 
and thou art found of him that sent him." 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 237 

The husband did not turn away the penitent 
wife, but received her joyfully, and her reforma- 
tion seemed to be sincere and permanent. " After 
some time," says Mr. Wesley, "her husband left 
Newcastle, and wrote to her to follow him. She 
set out in a ship bound for Hull. A storm met 
them by the way, the ship sprung a leak, and 
though it was near the shore, on which many per- 
sons flocked together, yet the sea ran so high that 
it was impossible to render any assistance. Mrs. 
S. was seen standing upon the deck as the ship 
gradually sunk, and afterward hanging by her 
hands on the ropes till the masts likewise disap- 
peared. Even then, for some moments, they could 
observe her floating upon the waves till her clothes, 
which buoyed her up, being thoroughly wet, she 
sunk, I trust, into the ocean of God's mercy." 

John Wesley and the Criminal. 

" I was in prison and ye visited me," will, no 
doubt, be said by the Judge to John Wesley. In 
1749 a soldier was in prison, and condemned to be 
executed. For several weeks John Wesley visited 
him in his cell, giving him instruction and praying 
with him, and he professed to be converted, and 
the change seemed to be real. Mr. Wesley visited 
him after his conversion, and had a very singular 
impression, and said to the prisoner, " Do not ex- 
pect to see me any more ; He who hath begun a 

238 Anecdotes of the Wedeys. 

good work will, 110 doubt, preserve you to the end ; 
but I believe Satan will separate us for a season/' 
The next day Mr. Wesley was informed that the 
commanding officer had given strict orders that 
" neither Mr. Wesley nor any of his people should 
be admitted into the prison, for they mere all Athe- 
ists" Mr. Wesley inquires, "Did that man die 
like an Atheist ? 1 Let my last end be like his.' " * 

John Wesley and the Anxious Man. 

At a certain period the Methodist Society in 
Dublin was greatly agitated by divisions. A 
good but very anxious brother wrote to Mr. Wes- 
ley on the subject, told him the real state of 
things, deplored it exceedingly, and concluded his 
communication by inquiring, " Where, sir, are all 
these things to end ? " The venerable Wesley re- 
plied : " Dear Brother, you ask where are all these 
things to end ? ' £ Why, in glory to God in the 
highest,' to be sure; 4 and on earth peace, and good- 
will among men.' " f 

John Wesley and the Discouraged Minister. 

A traveling minister, whose spirit was dejected, 
being tempted concerning his call to the ministry 

* Journal, vol. ii, page 27. 

I YTeslevan Magazine. 1S33, page 488. 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 239 

that he had run before he was sent, wrote to Mr. 
Wesley, requesting hirn to send another preacher 
to the circuit in his stead, saying, " He believed 
he was out of his place." Mr. Wesley sent him 
the following laconic and characteristic answer : 

" Dear Brother : You are indeed out of your 
place, for you are reasoning when you ought to be 
praying. I am your affectionate brother, 

" John Wesley." * 

John Wesley and the Egg Man. 

Mr. Wesley was for a time the most persecuted 
man in England and Ireland. Some of the perse- 
cutors descended to very mean things. In 1769 
he preached near Bedford. The audience were 
tolerably quiet till he had nearly finished his dis- 
course. Then some bawled at the top of their 
voices, and it was a perfect Babel. One man, a 
little more vile than the rest, full of malicious mis- 
chief, had filled his pockets with rotten eggs to 
throw at the preacher. A young man saw what mis- 
chief he intended. Unperceived, he went up behind 
him, clapped his hands on each side of his pockets, 
and mashed the eggs all at once. Mr. Wesley 
says : " In an instant he was perfume all over, 
though it was not so sweet as balsam." How fre- 
quently those who dig a pit for others fall into it 
themselves ! 

* Arminian Magazine. 

240 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

John Wesley and the Commissioners of Excise, 

When John Wesley was in London in 1776 the 
following occurred, illustrating his self-denial, his 
deadness to the world, as well as his humor and 
readiness at reply. An order had been issued by 
the House of Lords " that the Commissioners of 
his Majesty's Excise do write circular letters to all 
persons whom they have reason to suspect to have 
plate, as also to those who have not paid regularly 
the duty on the same," etc. In consequence of this 
order the Accountant General for household plate 
sent Mr. Wesley a copy of the order with the fol- 
lowing letter : 

" Rev. Sir : As the Commissioners cannot doubt 
but you have plate for which you have hitherto 
neglected to make an entry, they have directed me 
to send you the above copy of the Lords' order, 
and to inform you that they expect that you will 
forthwith make due entry of all your plate, such 
entry to bear date from the commencement of the 
plate duty, or from such time as you have owned, 
used, had, or kept any quantity of silverplate 
chargeable by the Act of Parliament ; as in default 
hereby the Board will be obliged to signify your 
refusal to their lordships. 

" X. B. An immediate answer is desired." 

Mr. Wesley returned the following laconic and 
characteristic reply : 

" Sir : I have two silver teaspoons at London 
and two at Bristol. This is all the plate which 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 241 

I have at present, and I shall not buy any more 
while so many around me want bread. 

" I am, sir, your most humble servant, 

" John "Wesley." 

Wesley's Advice to Samuel Bradburn. 

Samuel Bradburn was majestic in person and an 
unequaled orator, and distinguished for his keen 
wit and readiness at repartee. " The first time 
I was introduced to John YTesley," says Samuel 
Bradburn, I was greatly struck with his cheerful- 
ness and affability. From seeing him only in the 
pulpit, and considering his exalted station in the 
Church of Christ, I supposed he was very re- 
served and austere ; but how agreeably was I dis- 
appointed when, with a pleasant smile, he took 
me by the hand and said, 4 Beware of the fear of 
man, and be sure you speak flat and plain in preach- 
ing.' It is not easy to express the good effect this 
advice had on my mind at that time ; it was a 
word in season." 

Wesley and Low Spirits. 

Mr. Bradburn, who traveled with him thousands 
of miles, slept with him hundreds of times, lived five 
years in his family, knew Mr. Wesley's habits, and 
was acquainted with his secrets, says, " I never saw 
him low-spirited in my life, nor could he endure to 
be with a melancholy person. When speaking of 


242 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

any who imagined religion would make people 
morose and gloomy, he would say from the pulpit, 
as well as in private that 'sour godliness is the 
devil's religion.' " Mr. Bradburn was suffering from 
strong temptation, and he wrote to Mr. Wesley and 
received from him the following reply: "That 
melancholy turn is directly opposite to a Christian 
spirit. Every believer ought to enjtfy life." He 
never suffered himself to be carried away by ex- 
treme grief. He said, " I dare no more fret than 
curse and swear." 

Wesley, Bradburn, and Olivers. 

Thomas Olivers and Mr. Bradburn did not exactly 
see eye to eye. Something unpleasant had occurred 
between them, and it was brought to Conference 
to have the matter adjusted. Mr. Wesley acted as 
pacificator. He inquired, " Brother Bradburn, do 
you not love Tommy Olivers ? " " Sir," replied Mr. 
Bradburn, " I love him as much as you do John 
Hampson." This was a sudden and unexpected 
retort. Mr. Bradburn availed himself of the fact of 
Mr. Wesley's leaving John Hampson's name out of 
the Deed of Declaration, which was interpreted 
into a matter of prejudice, and gave offense to Mr. 
Hampson and his friends. 

Wesley and Elijah Bush. 

Elijah Bush was a contemporary of Mr. Wesley, 
and received from him many useful lessons. Young 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 243 

Bush having read Mr. Wesley's works, was de- 
lighted with an interview with him. He was not 
only charmed with his patriarchal dignity and child- 
like spirit and simplicity, but he received advice that 
had an influence upon him all the days of his life. 
•Mr. Wesley said with emphasis, and yet with 
peculiar sweetness, " Brother Bush, make the most 
of life" The words rung in his ear, thrilled 
through his soul, influenced his life. As an in- 
structor of youth, as a Class Leader, as a Local 
Preacher, as a candidate for eternity, he did make 
the most of life, never forgetting 

" 'Tis not the whole of life to live, 
Nor all of death to die." 


Wesley's Wise Counsel on Marriage. 

John Wesley heard that young Bush contem- 
plated marriage with one to whom his parents 
strongly objected. He wrote to him, saying, "I 
have never in fifty years known such a marriage at- 
tended with a blessing. I know not how it should 
be, since it is flatly contrary to the fifth command- 
ment. I told my own mother, pressing me to 
marry, 6 1 dare not allow you a positive voice 
herein ; I dare not marry a person because you bid 
me. But I must allow you a negative voice. I 
will marry no person you forbid. 5 The judicious 
and delicate advice of Mr. Wesley was followed 
by young Bush, and the marriage never took 

244 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

Wesley and the Belligerent Boys. 

Toward the close of Mr. Wesley's life he was 
the guest of Mr. Bush, at Norton. Mr. Bush kept 
a large boarding-school. Two of the boys had a 
quarrel, and fought and kicked each other most 
fiercely. Mrs. Bush went into the school and parted 
them, and then brought them into the parlor where 
Mr. Wesley was about to take tea. In a most 
kind and affectionate manner Mr. Wesley talked 
with them, and concluded his advice by repeating 
the lines of Dr. Watts : 

'•Birds in their little nests agree; 

And 'tis a shameful sight 
"When children of one family 

Fall out, and chide and fight." 

Mr. Wesley then said, " You must be reconciled. 
Go and shake hands with each other." They did 
so. " Xow," said he, " put your arms around each 
other's neck and kiss each other." When this was 
done Mr/ Wesley said, " Come to me," and taking 
two pieces of bread and butter he folded them 
together and desired each one to take a part. 
" Now," said he, "you have broken bread together." 
He then gave them a cup of tea, and told them they 
had both drank out of the same cup. He then put 
his hands upon their heads and blessed them. 
They went into the school room, forgot their ani- 
mosities, and were Mends. The next morning, 
when the scholars came in for prayers, Mr. Wesley 
singled out these two boys, encircled them in his 
arms, and gave them his blessing. This charac- 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


teristic anecdote was related to Rev. Richard 
Treffry by a magistrate of Berkshire, who was one 
of the little hoys thus kindly reprehended and 
instructed by the apostolic Wesley.* 

John Wesley and Thomas Holy, 

Mr. Holy resided in Sheffield, and was the in- 
timate Mend of John TTesley. In front of his 
house Wesley often preached, resting his hands 
upon the shoulder of his friend. One of his last 
visits is specially memorable. After having 
preached in Xorfolk-street Chapel he took the 
ami of Mr. Holly, who conducted him along the 
streets toward his own home. The members of 
the Society and the friends of Methodism, under 
the impression that from Mr. TTesley's advanced 
age this visit would be his last, followed him in a 
crowd ; while the curious part of the populace lined 
the streets, or threw open the windows in order to 
behold the venerable apostle for the last time. 
Mr. ^Vesley, as he passed along, distributed his 
gifts among the poor, and put his hands on the 
heads of the little children and blessed them. TThen 
he reached the green in front of Mr. Holy's house 
he turned to the multitude, threw his benignant 
eye over the whole, and stretched forth his hands 
and pronounced upon them the divine benediction. 
This only added fuel to the fire of affection ; the 
people crowded around him and wept aloud. Seer 
* Weslevan Magazine. 1812. p. 136. 

246 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

ing such emotion excited, and finding himself 
hemmed in on every side, he lifted up his voice in 
prayer. Every sentence was followed by a deep 
response from the dense crowd, occasionally inter- 
rupted by a kind of wailing. This having con- 
tinued for some time he again dismissed them with 
his blessing, and with some difficulty gained the 
door. This was a day of rejoicing to his host; 
it reminded him of former days when he and 
his widowed mother were obliged to steal to the 
Chapel in secret to escape insult and abuse, and 
when the apostolic Wesley was regularly hooted 
and pelted by the mob.* 

John Wesley and John Hilton. 

Almost from the origin of Methodism there have 
been what Mr. Wesley called " croakers " — persons 
who pronounce Methodism a failure. Mr. Wesley, 
at the Conference at Bristol in 1777, introduced the 
subject, and inquired of every preacher, " Have you 
reason to believe from your observation that the 
Methodists are a fallen people? Is there a decay 
or an increase in the work of God where you have 
been ? Are the Societies in general more dead or 
alive to God than they were some years ago?" 
Almost every one answered: "If we must Jenoio 
them by their fruits, there is no decay in the work 
of God among the people in general, The Societies 
are not dead to God ; they are as much alive as 

* "Wesleyan Magazine, 1832. 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 247 

they have been for many years, and we look upon 
this report as a mere device of Satan to make our 
hands hang down." One man, with an honest 
heart but weak head, named John Hilton, who had 
preached thirteen years, contended the Methodists 
were a " fallen people," and declared " he would 
leave them ! " His brethren endeavored to dis- 
suade him from doing so. Mr. Wesley, who read 
character very easily, and well understood men, 
seeing he could do no good by remaining, and the 
Conference could do him no good, gently said, 
u Let him go in peace." Mr. Hilton took his de- 
parture, and joined the Quakers. 

John Wesley and the Dyspeptic Clergyman* 

" When stationed in the city of Bath," says Rev. 
Mr. Towle, "I was introduced into the company 
of an aged man whom I understood to be inti- 
mate with John Wesley, and once a useful Local 
Preacher. He entered into a conversation about 
the times of Mr. Wesley, when he related the fol- 
lowing : i On one occasion when Mr. Wesiey dined 
with me, after dinner, as usual, I prepared a little 
brandy and water. Mr. Wesiey on seeing this, 
with surprise asked, " What, my brother, what is 
that ; do you drink spirits ?" " It is brandy," said 
I; "my digestion is bad, and I am obliged to 
take a little after dinner." Mr. Wesley inquired, 
"How much do you take? let me see." I said, 
" Only about a table spoonful." " Truly," said he, 

248 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

" that is not much, but one spoonful will soon lose 
its effects, then you will take two, from two you 
will get to a full glass, and then, in like manner, 
' by the power of habit, you will want two, and so 
on, till in the end you will become a drunkard. 

my brother, take care what you do." ' He 
added, ' Happy would it have been for that man 
if he had taken the advice, the timely warning of 
my good friend, Mr. Wesley. But, alas ! he trifled 
with the little drops until he did actually become 
a drunkard, ruined his reputation, and at the time 

1 had the interview with him he was a poor, miser- 
able backslider, within a few feet of an untimely 
and disgraceful grave.' " 

John Wesley and the Archbishop of Canterbury. 

Mr. Wesley was well acquainted with Dr. Potter, 
Archbishop of Canterbury. Mr. Wesley was in 
the practice of learning from every man he met 
with. He says, " jSTearly fifty years ago that great 
and good man. Dr. Potter, gave me advice for 
which I iave ever since had occasion to bless God. 
He said, c If you desire to be extensively useful do 
not spend your time and strength in contending 
for or against such things as are of a disputable 
nature, but in testifying against open notorious 
vice, and in promoting real essential holiness.'" 
Mr. Wesley says, " Let us keep to this ; leaving a 
thousand disputable points to those who have no 
better business than to toss the ball of controversy 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys, 249 

to and fro. Let us bear a faithful testimony 
against all ungodliness, and with all our might 
recommend that inward and outward 'holiness 
without which no man shall see the Lord.' "* 

John Wesley and Father O'Leary. 

Mr. Wesley seemed literally "set for the de- 
fense of the Gospel." Father O'Leary was a 
Roman Catholic priest in Dublin, and Mr. Wesley 
and he had quite a controversy on Romanism. 
Mr. Wesley was admitted to be the victor. The 
Rev. Mr. Skelton, an eminent divine of the Church 
of Ireland, was delighted with the able manner in 
which Mr. Wesley conducted the controversy. He 
thanked Mr. Wesley for his letters, and said, " Mr. 
Wesley's positions were like a wall of adamant; 
and that Mr. O'Leary's replies were as boiled peas 
shot against it.'! Mr. Wesley complains that his 
opponent "has only drollery and low wit to op- 
pose to argument." "Drollery," he says, "may 
cpme in when we are talking of roasting fowls, 
but not when we talk of roasting men." 

Mr. Wesley relates the following : " On Friday 
last (March 18, 1782) I dined with a gentlewoman 
whose father, living in Dublin, was very intimate 
with a Roman Catholic gentleman. Having in- 
vited him to dinner one day, in the course of con- 
versation Mrs. G. asked him, "Sir, would you 
really cut my husband's throat if your priest com- 
manded you." He answered honestly, "Mr. G. 

250 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

is my friend, and I love him well ; but I musst 
obey the Church." " Sir," said she, " I beg I may 
never more see you within my doors," 

John Wesley and the Persecuting Papist 

John Wesley was preaching in Bowling Green, 
Kilkenny, in 1762, and multitudes of both Protest- 
ants and Papists went to hear him. Toward the 
conclusion of the sermon the Papists ran together 
and set up a tremendous shout. Mr. Wesley 
turned toward them with a very majestic look, and 
with a commanding voice said, "Be silent, or be 
gone." In a moment they were as still as death, 
and he finished his sermon without further inter- 
ruption. When he came out from the Green many 
gathered around him and gnashed upon him with 
their teeth ; and one cried out, " O what is Kil- 
kenny come to ! " " Only two or three large stones 
were thrown," says Mr. Wesley, "but none were 
hurt save he that threw them: for, as he was 
going to throw again, one seized him by the neck 
and gave him a kick and a cuff, which spoiled his 

John Wesley and the Roman Catholic Woman/ 

John Wesley, in 1790, visited Doncastle, and 
preached in the evening to a crowded audience. 
In his sermon he made some remarks touching the 

* Wesley's Sermons, vol. i% p. 376. 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 251 

doctrines and practices of the Roman Catholic 
Church, and he related an anecdote of a Roman 
Catholic woman who had broken her china cruci- 
fix. In an agony of mind she went to her priest 
exclaiming, " O sir, what must I do ? I have 
broken my china crucifix, and have nothing but 
the great God of heaven to trust to." " What a 
mercy," exclaimed Mr. Wesley, raising his hands, 
"that this poor woman had at length nothing to 
trust to but the great God of heaven." A zealous 
Catholic by the name of Jeweson was present, 
and the relation of this anecdote proved a nail in 
a sure place. He saw the folly of his former re- 
ligious notions, and immediately he renounced 
them. The next Sunday he joined the Methodist 
Society, and till the hour of his death continued a 
humble and consistent member. * 

John Wesley and Joseph Lee. 

When Mr. Wesley first visited Newcastle-upon- 
Tyne he greatly admired Joseph Lee as a man full 
of faith and love, and appointed him Class Leader 
and Steward. He discharged his trust with the 
utmost ability and integrity. He walked humbly 
and closely with God, and was a pattern to all the 
town as well as all the Society. After some time 
he removed to Nottingham, and there he fell in 
with some Antinomians, embraced their opinions, 
and, trusting in his own strength, grew less and 

* Wesleyan Magazine, 1828, page T42. 


Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

less strict ; and first lost the power, then the form, 
of godliness. After he had lived some years openly 
and avowedly without God in the world, while he 
was one evening quite merry with his jovial com- 
panions, one of them said, "Why, Mr. Lee. you 
were one of those mad Methodists." He answered 
not a word, but leaned his aim upon the table and 
died. What a shipwreck of fakh dashed on the 
rocks of ruin, and not so much as a plank upon 
which to escape. How true, that "the last state of 
that man is worse than the beginning,' 5 and that it 
would " have been better never to have known the 
way of righteousness, than, after having known it, 
to depart froin the holy commandment " delivered 
unto him. 

John Wesley and the " Lending Stock." 

Xo man ever devised more plans for the relief 
and comfort of the poor than John Wesley. One 
blessing surely he has obtained, "Blessed are they 
that sow beside all waters." To discourage the 
practice of pawning, and to aid the temporal neces- 
sities of the poor members of the Society at the 
Foundery, a fund was established by Mr. Wesley, 
termed the " Lending Stock;*' from which any 
poor person, being a member of the society, could 
obtain a loan of from two to five pounds, on the 
recommendation of his or her Leader, in conjunc- 
tion with some one who should become securitv 
for the repayment of the sum advanced. The fol- 
lowing is a copy of one of these loan notes, which 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 253 

is preserved as a relic, and to show how they did 
things in the days of yore : 

129 FOUNDEBY, Oct. 11, 1*764. 

Borrowed and received of Mr. Ward (Steward 
of the Lending Stock) the sum of two pounds, 
which we jointly and severally promise to pay to 
him or order. 
Witness our hands, Rebecca Landox, Borrower. 

Jomr Bakeweel, Security. 
John Buzeee's Class. 

Lackington, the celebrated bookseller, and others, 
who rose to great eminence in the commercial 
world, commenced their mercantile career by loans 
derived from this fund. 

John Wesley and the Wonderful Prophecy. 

It is always dangerous to turn prophet, and be 
wiser than revelation. There were those in Lon- 
don who got the spirit of inspiration, and declared 
the world would end the 28th of February, 1764. 
Multitudes believed it, and the terror it occa- 
sioned was fearful. From the time Mr. Wesley 
heard of it he preached against it with all the en- 
ergy God had given him. He said, " It must be 
false if the Bible was true." The last day came 
when time was to end, and the funeral of the 
world to take place. Mr. Wesley preached from 
" Prepare to meet thy God," attacking the absurd 
notion that the world was to end that night. But 

254 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

notwithstanding all he said many were afraid to 
go to bed, and others wandered in the fields, firmly 
belie vino- that if the world did not end that night 
London would be destroyed by an earthquake. 
Mr. Wesley went to bed at his usual hour, and 
slept very sweetly till morning, its light showing 
their prediction false, and the utter folly of being 
wiser than revelation. 

John Wesley and the Ship upon a Rock. 

In July, 1787, Mr. Wesley, Dr. Coke, and sev- 
eral preachers went on board the ship Prince of 
Wales, one of the Parkgate packets. He says : 
" At seven we sailed with a fair, moderate wind. 
Between nine and ten I lay down, as usual, and 
slept till nearly four, when I was awakened by an 
uncommon noise, and found the ship lay beating 
upon a large rock about a league from Holyhead. 
The Captain, who had not long lain down, leaped 
up, and running upon the deck, when he saw how 
the ship lay cried out, 4 Your lives may be saved, 
but I am undone.' Yet no sailor swore, and no 
woman cried out. We immediately went to prayer, 
and presently the ship, I know not how, shot off 
the rock, and pursued her way without any more 
damage than the wounding a few of her outside 
planks. About three in the afternoon we came safe 
to Parkgate."* Were they not saved in answer 
to prayer ? 

* Journal, vol. vi, page lit. 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 


John Wesley and the Providential Shower. 

Near 1770 John Wesley and Thomas Taylor 
were traveling in Ireland when a sudden and 
heavy shower came upon them, and they sought 
shelter in one of the Irish cabins or huts. The 
people were in poverty extreme. The mother and 
several children were all in rags. When leaving 
the cabin Mr. Wesley gave the woman of the 
house some money, with which she appeared to be 
highly delighted. 

When the shower was over Mr. Wesley and his 
traveling companion mounted their horses and 
pursued their journey. Mr. Wesley, who knew 
that " it is more blessed to give than receive," said 
in a familiar manner, " O, Tommy, what a satis- 
faction there is in doing good ! Did you not see 
the pleasing gratitude in that poor woman's coun- 
tenance for the little that was given to her ? I 
think God sent that shower on purpose to drive 
us into that cabin." . 


John Wesley and John Downes. 

John Downes was one of Wesley's early itiner- 
ants, who preached with great success the glorious 
GospeL Wesley says, " He was by nature as great 
a genius as Sir Isaac Newton," and mentions a 
number of things in proof. " When young Downes 
was at school learning algebra he went to his mas- 
ter and said, 6 Sir, I can prove this proposition 

256 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

better than it is proved in the book.' His master 
thought it could not be, but upon trial acknowl- 
edged it to be so. 5 ' Again, " Thirty years ago, 
while I was shaving, he was whittling the top of a 
stick. I asked, 6 What are you doing ? ' He an- 
swered, 'I am taking your face, which I intend to 
engrave on a copper plate.' Accordingly, without 
any instruction, he first made himself tools, and 
then engraved the plate," The second picture 
which he engraved was that which was prefixed 
to Wesley's Notes upon the New Testament. 
Such another instance, I suppose, not all England 
or perhaps Europe, can produce. After more than 
thirty years hard service the 5th of November, 
1774, while preaching in West-street Chapel, Lon- 
don, from " Come unto me, ye that are weary and 
heavy laden," etc., he fell dead in the pulpit. 
There " he gloriously rested from his labors, and 
entered into the joy of his Lord." * Charles Wes- 
ley exclaimed, " O for a death like this ! It is the 
most enviable, the most desirable I ever heard of." 
He left a widow and sixpence of property. 

John Wesley and Dictators. 

Some men are not merely suggesters, but they 
are dictators. They will dictate to ministers and 
Churches, and woe to them who are not ready to 
pronounce their shibboleth. Mr. Wesley says, 
" That for fifty years if any one said to him, 4 If 
* Wesley's Journal, November, 1*7 "7 4. 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 257 

you do not put such a one out of the Society I 
will go out of it,' I have said, 8 Pray go. I, not 
you, am to judge who shall stay. 5 " He says, " I 
have often repented of judging too severely, but 
very seldom of being too merciful." 

John Wesley and Croakers. 

The family of grumblers is almost as numerous as 
the locusts of Egypt, and, like them, they destroy 
every green thing. Mr. Wesley could not have 
given them a more appropriate name than in the 
sentence, " Croakers invariably hinder the work of 
God." Their fretfumess grieves the Holy Spirit, 
their want of faith paralyzes their own prayers 
and exertions, and their gloomy conversation de- 
presses the hearts of their brethren." He met 
with one in Dudley in 1760. The place had for- 
merly been a den of lions. He says he was 
surprised to find the people so still, many gaping 
and staring, but none speaking an uncivil word. 
" Ah," said a well-meaning man, " we shall not find 
them so civil by and by." " I wish these croakers 
would learn to hold their peace. I desire to hear 
no prophets of evil." 

John Wesley and Robert Young. 

A man in Newcastle had personally insulted 
Mr. Wesley in the street. Upon inquiry he 


258 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

found the man was an old offender in persecuting 
the members of the Society by abusing and throw- 
ing stories at them. Learning his name, as well as 
his conduct, Mr. Wesley sent him the following 
note : 

" Robert Young, I expect to see you between 
this and Friday, and to hear from you that you 
are sensible of your fault, otherwise, in pity to 
your soul, I shall be obliged to inform the magis- 
trates of your assaulting me in the street. 

u I am your real friend, Johx Wesley." 

Within two or three hours Robert Young came 
and confessed his fault, and promised quite a dif- 
ferent behavior. Mr. Wesley in his journal, where 
he relates this, says : " So did this gentle reproof, if 
not save a soul from death, yet prevent a multitude 
of sins." 

John Wesley and the Son of his Friend. 

William Xorris was the son of the Rev. John 
Xorris, who died on Epworth Circuit in 1779. He 
and Mr. Wesley, who bears the following honor- 
able testimony to his character, were great friends. 
Mr. Xorris " was a faithful and constant witness of 
Christian perfection, who died as he lived, full of 
faith and the Holy Ghost." When Mr. Wesley 
visited Dublin for the last time but one he was 
asked if he remembered John Xorris. He said he 
did. He was then told " his son was present, and 
that he had a desire for salvation." Mr. Wesley, 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


with great emotion, exclaimed, " What ! the son of 
my friend, John X orris ? " and walking hastily 
across the floor fell upon his neck and kissed him. 
He was then told that he hesitated at that time 
about uniting with the people of God. Mr. Wes- 
ley then withdrew his embrace, and retraced his 
steps backward, gave "his friend's son" a most 
expressive look, in which reproof and compassion 
were so strangely blended that, to use the young 
man's own words, " it almost broke his heart." It 
was something like the look the Lord gave Peter. 
That look Mr. Xorris never forgot. Mr. "Wesley 
made another, which was his last visit to Ireland. 
When he was on board the ship in Dublin harbor, 
as it was about to sail, some one called to him from 
the quay and asked him if he still remembered 
Mr. X orris's son, adding, "He is now rejoicing in 
God." The venerable man immediately took off 
his hat and knelt upon the deck, and expressed 
the joy and gratitude of his spirit by lifting up his 
hands to heaven in ardent thanksgiving. William 
Xorris continued steadfast in the faith. When the 
rebellion broke out he resided in the town of Pros- 
perous. The rebel force surprised the garrison at 
that place, and butchered them. The mob passed 
along the street, and seeing Mr. Xorris standing at 
his own door, ordered him into his house to await 
his fate while they murdered his next neighbor. 
They soon entered his dwelling on the work of 
death. Mr. Xorris was up stairs commending him- 
self to the protection of God in prayer. He heard 
a great noise and contention below. The ring- 


Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

leader of the murderous band, on corning to the 
door, was suddenly overruled by One in whose 
hands are all hearts. He instantly changed his 
purpose, and, instead of going up stairs, as he 
had intended, to imbrue again his pike in human 
gore, placed it across the threshold, awfully affirm- 
ing " that before any man should touch Norris they 
should go through his body." They were deter- 
mined to kill him, that there should be no excep- 
tion. He plead his cause, showing why his life 
should be spared. He referred to Mr. Norris's 
former kindness as an employer, and to his pacific 
demeanor as a neighbor. Mr. Norris had employed 
many weavers, and some of them were in the mob. 
They moved on with loud threats, while their 
leader remained as a life-guard to God's servant. 
As soon as there was a little quiet the ringleader 
of the mob called to Mr. Norris, who was still up 
stairs, and urged him at the peril of his life to quit 
the town, directing him to a way of safety, and 
then he proceeded onward in his work of death.* 
This was almost a miraculous preservation of the 
son of Mr. Wesley's friend. Mr. Norris removed 
to England, was useful as an official member of the 
Society, maintained his integrity until death, and 
passed away in triumph, in August, 1822, to join 
Wesley and his father, 

" "Where perfect love and friendship reign 
Through all eternity." 

* Wesleyan Magazine, 1823, page 62. 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 261 

John Wesley and George Osborn. 

Mr. Osborn resided in Rochester. He had heard 
much of Wesley, had read his writings, and had an 
ardent desire to see him. About the year 1784 
Mr. Wesley made a visit to Rochester, where he 
was. Mr. Osborn was captivated with the founder 
of Methodism, and said the first impression made 
upon his mind by what he saw and heard from 
Mr. Wesley was, " This man is a scholar." Others 
had represented Wesley to him in a very different 
light, as fanatical and ignorant. Mr. Wesley's fre- 
quent references to recent publications, his natural 
and unostentatious manner of quoting the original 
Scriptures, his whole bearing and demeanor, even to 
the manner of his handling the pulpit books, were 
all noticed as bearing on this point, and Mr. Osborn 
concluded that so far as these indications might be 
relied on there was no more fanaticism in the foun- 
der of Methodism than in any of the more dignified 
and wealthy clergymen he had been accustomed 
to hear at the Cathedral. 

John Wesley's Condescension. 

Mr. Osborn was forcibly impressed with the dif- 
ference between Mr. Wesley and the great bulk 
of his people in mental habits and endowments. 
"This man, 5 ' he said to himself, "must be an 
eminent Christian, or he would not associate so 
much with poor ignorant folks, and make himself 

262 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

at home as lie does." The longer he lived the 
more he admired this feature of Mr. "Wesley's char- 
acter, and he would often apply to him the language 
of St. Paul respecting himself: "To the weak 
I became as weak, that I might gain the weak : 
I am made all things to all men, that I might by 
all means save some," observing at the same time 
that only a scholar could estimate the amount of 
self-denial which would be required in carrying out 
this principle through half a century. 

John Wesley and the Landscape. 

Mr. Wesley was a great admirer of the beauties 
of nature ; indeed, he could find 

Books in the running brooks, 
Sermons in stones, and good in every thing." 

Mr. Osborn admired Mr. Wesley's habitual devo- 
tional spirit. On one occasion Mr. Wesley's host 
and some other friend saccompanied him to one of 
the lofty hills behind the town of Chatham, which 
commands a most beautiful prospect. All were 
charmed with the loveliness of the scene, and when 
they had freely expressed their admiration of the 
enchanting landscape Mr. Wesley took off his hat 
and began to sing, 

" Praise ye the Lord; 'tis good to raise 
Tour hearts and voices in his praise: 
His nature and his works invite. 
To make this duty our delight.'' 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 263 

They all joined in singing the beautiful hymn of 
Watts, while Mr. Wesley acted as chorister. After 
singing they all returned home, having 

"Looked through nature up to nature's God." 

Mr. Osborn never forgot the lesson he learned that 
morning ; and often, when looking at fine scenery, 
lie would say, with allusion to this anecdote, " Why 
should we give the landscape all the praise and 
the Author none ? " 

John Wesley and the Tea Party. 

At another time a large party of friends who 
had met to take tea were exceedingly diverted 
at some anecdote which either Mr. Wesley or one 
of the preachers who had accompanied him told. 
The company were convulsed with laughter, which 
was followed as usual by a momentary silence; 
and just as the conversation was about to be re- 
sumed Mr. Wesley stood up, and, of course, all 
eyes were turned to him. He paused a moment, 
and then, lifting up his hand in a manner peculiarly 
his own, began : 

il Still may I walk as in thy sight, 

My strict observer see ; . 
And thou, by reverent love, unite 

My child-like heart to thee. 
Still let me, till my days are past, 

At Jesus' feet abide ; 
So shall he lift me up at last, 

And seat me by his side." 

264 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

The effect was electrical. The tide was changed. 
It was as happy as it was instantaneous. There 
was beautifully blended the wisdom of the serpent 
with the harmlessness of the dove. The full 
stream of feeling was diverted into the right chan- 
nel, and the pleasures of the parlor became a prep- 
aration for the services of the sanctuary. 

John Wesley and the Gayer Family. 

Edward Gayer, Esq., of Derryaghy, Ireland, 
with his family, early embraced Methodism. He 
occupied a beautiful mansion, delightfully situated 
about midway between Lisburn and Belfast. He 
fitted up at his own expense a place for preaching 
in the village of Derryaghy, near his residence, 
and in his house a room called "the prophet's 
chamber." This was one of John Wesley's choice 
homes in Ireland. In the summer of 1775, when 
Mr. Wesley was on his accustomed tour through 
the north of Ireland, he was received and affec- 
tionately entertained in the hospitable dwelling of 
Mr. Gayer, where he lay for several days danger- 
ously ill of a violent fever, and experienced the 
kindest attentions of the family. Noticing this 
event in his journal of that year, he writes : " Here 
nature sunk, and I took to my bed, but I could no 
more turn myself therein than a new-born child. 
My memory failed, as well as my strength, and 
well-nigh my understanding. Only those words 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


ran in my mind when I saw Miss Gayer on one 
side of the bed, looking at her mother on the 

" She sat, like patience on a monument, 
Smiling at grief." 

He says for two or three days he was more dead 
than alive. His tongue was swollen, and as black 
as coal; he was convulsed all over, and for some 
time his heart did not beat perceptibly, neither 
was any pulse discernible.* 

" On that occasion," says the biographer of Miss 
Gayer, afterward Mrs. Wolfenden, "many fears 
were entertained of Mr. Wesley's death, and much 
solicitude felt for his recovery. Fervent prayer 
was offered up for him that God might graciously 
prolong his valuable life, and, as in the case of 
Hezekiah, add to his days fifteen years ; and while 
one of the preachers, with a few select friends, 
were thus engaged, Mrs. Gayer suddenly rose 
from her knees, and exclaimed, 'The prayer is 
granted ! ' Soon after Mr. Wesley recovered, and 
survived from June, 1775, till March, 1791, a period 
of just fifteen years and eight months." 

How to Perpetuate Methodism. 

In 1783 the Rev. Robert Miller asked Mr. Wes- 
ley " What must be done to keep Methodism alive 
when you are dead ? " Mr. Wesley gave the fol- 
lowing answer : " The Methodists must take heed 
* Journal, vol. v, page 160. 

266 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

to their doctrine, their experience, their practice, 
and their discipline. If they attend to their doc- 
trines only, they will make the people Antinornians; 
if to the experimental part of religion only, they 
will make them enthusiasts ; if to the practical part 
of religion only, they will make them Pharisees ; 
and if they do not attend to their discipline they 
will "be like persons who bestow much pains in 
cultivating a garden, and put no fence around it 
to save it from the wild boars of the forest.''" 

John Wesley and John Allen. 

At an annual Conference over which Mr. Wes- 
ley presided, he opened by asking the usual ques- 
tions as to whether there were any objections to 
the moral and religious characters of the preachers, 
or any charge against them for neglect of duty or 
talents for the work ; but in reading the names 
omitted his own and that of his brother Charles. 
John Allen, a highly respectable preacher, rose 
and said that he objected to the course pursued 
by the President. This was the first time fife 
Wesley's conduct had been called in question in 
the Conference. His High-Church principles in? 
atantly took fire, and he replied with great warmth 
that he should not submit to be examined by his 
preachers. Mr. Allen said, " Then, sir, I have 
done," and sat down. The greatest stillness and 
astonishment now pervaded the Conference. 3Ir. 
Wesley, recollecting himself, replied, u Brother 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys, 267 

Allen, have you any charge to prefer against 
me ? " Mr. Allen said, " I have." " Then," said 
Mr. Wesley, " I will begin at the beginning," and 
instantly called his own name. All eyes were now 
turned toward Mr. Allen, who rose and said, " I 
have something in the form of a charge to prefer 
against you, sir, namely, though you have prom- 
ised again and again to visit my circuit, to the 
great grief of many in that part, you have not 
done it." Mr. Allen had scarcely uttered these 
words when the clock announced the arrival of 
the breakfast hour, and after a moment's interces- 
sion the Conference was broken up, and they re- 
tired. During the time of breakfast Mr. Wesley 
withdrew, and on his re-entering the room he ap- 
peared as if in thought. He could not be roused ; 
his wonted fires did not glow. On his return to 
the Conference, after singing and prayer, he re- 
quested Mr. Allen to stand up, and said, " Brother 
Allen, I beg your pardon, the pardon of God, and 
the pardon of my brethren for the improper 
warmth into which I have been betrayed." He 
then acknowledged he was accountable to his 
brethren, and after stating that the disappoint- 
ment in question arose from circumstances over 
which he had no control, he then desired the Con- 
ference to join with him in prayer to God, in 
which he humbly confessed the whole case, and 
earnestly implored forgiveness for every sin both 
of omission and commission. The whole scene 
was overpowering, and every individual in the 
Conference was affected to tears. 

268 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

John Wesley and the Deed of Declaration. 

Nothing John Wesley ever did created more 
prejudice against him than his famous " Deed of 
Declaration yet it was one of the wisest acts of 
his life. It was of the highest importance to the 
Methodist Connection, preserving to them their 
Church property, and securing to them a perma- 
nent but itinerant ministry. It has been their 
sheet-anchor in the midst of storms. There was 
danger that after his death every thing would go 
to destruction. In 1784 Mr. "Wesley felt that his 
days were limited, and when he died the Confer- 
ence, which was not incorporated, but depended 
upon his will, would cease to exist. To perpetuate 
the system of Methodism Mr. Wesley, after haying 
taken the best counsel, drew up the " Deed of Dec- 
laration," constituting one hundred preachers the 
Conference, and giving them the power, under cer- 
tain restrictions, to appoint preachers to the chap- 
els, and to exercise a godly discipline over their 
fellow-laborers and one another. This deed he 
enrolled in his Majesty's High Court of Chancery. 
Some preachers were offended because their names 
were not inserted among the hundred, and re- 
signed. Mr. Wesley justifies himself. " But what 
need of any declaration at all ? " He answers 
there was the utmost need of it. Without some 
authentic deed, fixing the meaning of the term, 
the moment I died the Conference had been noth- 
ing ; therefore any of the proprietors of the land 
on which our preaching-houses were built might 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


have seized them for their own use, and there 
would have been none to hinder them, for the 
Conference would have been nobody — a mere 
empty name." He declares it was u an absolutely 
necessary deed," and concludes : " I have not been 
laboring for myself, (I have no interests therein,) 
but for the ichole body of Methodists, in order to 
Ho: them upon such a foundation as is likely to 
stand as long as sun and moon endure. That is, if 
they continue to walk by faith, and to show their 
faith by their works, otherwise, I pray God to root 
out the memory of them from the earth." * 

Fletcher as Mediator. 

There was, as has been said, much dissatisfac- 
tion at the Conference concerning the Deed of 
Declaration on the part of ministers whose names 
were omitted. The debates were full of excitement 
and personality. Mr. Fletcher was there with his 
angelic countenance, and his spirit as sweet as the 
beloved John, whose name he bore. When the 
storm was raging he tried to produce a calm. 
" Xever," says Charles Atmore, f " while memory 
holds her seat, shall I forget with what ardor and 
earnestness Mr. Fletcher expostulated, even on his 
knees, both with Mr. Wesley and the preachers. 
To the former he said, ■ My father, my father, they 
have offended, but they are your children.' To 

* Arminian Magazine, 1785. 

f Wesley an Magazine, 1845, page 14. 

270 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

the latter lie exclaimed, 4 My brethren, my breth- 
ren, he is your father ! ' and then, portraying the 
work in which they were unitedly engaged, fell 
again on his knees, and with much fervor and de- 
votion engaged in prayer. The Conference was 
bathed in tears; many of them sobbed aloud." 
Such is the description of the melting scene at the 
Conference. His touching appeal produced a tem- 
porary reconciliation. 

John Wesley and his Successor. 

When time had shaken Wesley by the hand 
some of his preachers wished Mr. Fletcher at their 
head in case of the death of Mr. Wesley, and 
wished him to speak to Mr. Fletcher on the sub- 
ject. He did so. Mr. Wesley reported to them in 
his short way, " He mil not come out unless the 
Lord should baptize him for it." Mr. Fletcher 
said, in writing to a friend, " If I had a heart full 
of grace, a head full of wisdom, and a pocket full 
of money, I might take Mr. Wesley's place." 

When Wesley was so ill in 1753 at Ebenezer 
Blackwell's, at Lewisham, that his death was 
hourly expected, Charles met the Society at the 
Foundery at London, and some of them spoke to 
him about being the successor of his brother. He 
told them he neither could nor would stand in his 
brother's place if God took him to himself, for he 
had neither a body, nor a mind, nor talents, nor 
grace for it. eTohn Wesley outlived them both, 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


and we wonder not that they trembled at the idea 
of being his successor. 

Wesley's Prayer for Fletcher. 

The Conference in 1777 was held in Bristol, and 
what follows was related by David Lloyd, who 
says he was an " eye and an ear witness to the 
facts." "The Rev. John Fletcher, of Madeley, 
had for a long time labored under a deep-seated 
consumption, which was then adjudged to be ad- 
vancing to its final crisis. He was advised by the 
faculty to make the tour of the continent, and 
breathe his native air. When in the forenoon of 
a day the Conference was drawing to a close tid- 
ings announced the approach of Mr. Fletcher. As 
he entered the vestibule of the new room, supported 
by Mr. Ireland, I can never forget the visible im- 
pulse of esteem which his venerable presence ex- 
cited in the house. The whole assembly stood 
up as if moved by an electric shock. Mr. Wesley 
arose and advanced a few paces to receive his 
highly respected friend and reverend brother, 
whose visage seemed strongly to bode that he 
stood on the verge of the grave, and his eyes, 
sparkling with seraphic love, indicated that he 
dwelt in the suburbs of heaven. In this his lan- 
guid but happy state he addressed the Conference 
on their work, and gave his views in a strain of holy 
unction and pathetic eloquence which no language 
of mine can adequately express. The influence of 

272 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

his spirit and pathos seem to bear down all before 
it. I never saw snch an instantaneous effect pro- 
duced in a religious assembly either before or 
since. He had scarcely pronounced a dozen sen- 
tences before a hundred preachers were immersed 
in tears. Time can never efface from my mind the 
recollection and image of what I then felt and saw. 
Such a scene I never expect to witness on this side 
eternity. Mr. Wesley, in order to relieve his lan- 
guid friend from the fatigue and injury which 
might arise from a too long and arduous exertion 
of his lungs through much speaking, abruptly 
kneeled at his side, the whole Conference of 
preachers doing the same, while he addressed the 
throne of grace in a concise and energetic manner, 
offering up a supplicatory prayer for a restoration 
to health, and a longer exercise of ministerial la- 
bors in behalf of their dear brother and companion 
in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, which 
prayer he closed with the following prophetic 
promise, pronounced in his peculiar manner, with 
a confidence and emphasis which seemed to thrill 
every heart: 'He shall not die, out live, and de- 
clare the works of the Lord? The event verified 
the prediction. Mr. Fletcher exerted all the zeal 
of a primitive missionary for eight years after- 


John Wesley and Apostolical Succession. 

Volumes have been written on apostolical suc- 
cession. John Wesley, in writing to his brother 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 273 

Charles, said, " I firmly believe, I am a scriptural 
episcopos as much as any man in England or in 
Europe. (For the uninterrupted succession I know 
to be a fable, which no man ever did or can prove.") 
Again he says, "Lord King's 'Account of the Primi- 
tive Church' convinced me many years ago that 
Bishops and Presbyters are the same order, and 
consequently have the same right to ordain." 
These are the reasons he assigns for ordaining, in 
1784, Thomas Coke, LL.D., Superintendent or 
Bishop for the Methodist Church in America, and 
Richard Whatcoat and Thomas Vasey Elders. 

John Wesley and Joseph Bradford. 

Mr. Bradford was one of the purest men Wes- 
leyan Methodism ever produced. He was the cho- 
sen friend and traveling companion of Mr. Wesley 
for years. ISTo man on earth did Mr. Wesley take 
into more intimate fellowship. His disposition 
was kind, and he was at the same time a man of 
unbending integrity. Mr. Wesley left his watch 
- to Joseph Bradford. He was with Mr. Wesley 
when he was dying, and offered the last prayer for 

" Joseph," said Mr. Wesley one day, " take 
these letters to the post." 

Bradford. I will take them after preaching, sir 
Wesley. Take them now, Joseph. 
Bradford. I wish to hear you preach, sir, and 


274 Anecdotes of the Wesley $. 

there will be sufficient time for the post after 

Wesley. I insist upon your going now, Joseph. 
Bradford, I will not go at present. 

Wesley. You wont ? 
Bradford. No, sir. 

Wesley. Then you and I must part. 
Bradford. Very good, sir. 

The good men slept over it. Both were early 
risers. At four the next morning the refractory 
" helper" was accosted by Mr. Wesley with " Jo- 
seph, have you considered what I said, that we 
must part ? " 

Bradford. Yes, sir. 

Wesley. And must we part ? 

Bradford. Please yourself, sir. 

Wesley. Will you ask my pardon, Joseph ? 

Bradford. No, sir. 

Wesley. You wont ? 

Bradford. No, sir. 

Wesley. Then I will yours, Joseph ? 

Bradford instantly melted into tears, and Mr. 
Wesley was deeply affected. Mr. Wesley could 
not afford to dismiss such a friend, or Bradford 
leave such a father, and they journeyed on to- 
gether till the founder of Methodism fell asleep. 

Wesley, Bradford, and the Chaise. 

Mr. Wesley was a great redeemer of time, and 
was always pained at the loss of a moment, as 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 


the following anecdote, related by Dr. Adam 
Clarke, will show : 

In 1785, with Joseph Bradford, he visited Dr. 
Clarke on St. Austell Circuit. Says the Doctor : 
" I was with Mr. Wesley one day when his chaise 
was not at the door at the time he had ordered it. 
He set off on foot, and I accompanied him. It 
was not long, however, "before Joseph Bradford 
overtook us with it. Mr. Wesley inquired, c Jo- 
seph, what has been the matter ? 5 

Mr. B. I could not get things ready any sooner, 

Mr. W. You should have urged the people to 


Mr. B. I spoke to them to be in readiness, sir, 
no less than nineteen times. 

Mr. Wesley pleasantly remarked, " You lost it, 
you blockhead, for the want of the twentieth" thus 
giving Joseph and his young Mend a gentle hint 
on punctuality and perseverance. 

Wesley, Bradford, and the Angel. 

The harmony of Churches is often disturbed by 
very little things. In 1778 there was a division in 
the Society at Halifax about an angel with a trum- 
pet in his hand, which one party would have fixed 
on the top of a sounding-board over the pulpit, 
while the other party would not consent to it, and 
the difficulty was so great that the circuit preach- 
ers could not reconcile the contending parties, so 

276 Anecdotes of the Wesley $. 

they agreed to leave it to Mr. Wesley, and abide 
by bis decision. When Mr. Wesley came, he gave 
bis judgment against tbe angel, and to put an end 
to all future strife, be requested Mr. Bradford to 
offer a limit sacrifice of the angel on the altar of 
peace. He did so, and tbe apple of discord was 
removed, and Zion became a quiet habitation. 

John Wesley, Adam Clarke, and the Horse. 

In 1784 a gentleman of Bradford gave Adam 
Clarke, who was then a young preacher on the 
circuit, a horse, and among the other good quali- 
ties for which he extolled him, said he was an ex- 
cellent chaise horse. Mr. Wesley, who stood by, 
said, " One of our horses troubles us very much, 
for he often takes it into his head he will not draw. 
Had I not better take your horse, Mr. R., and let 
Brother Clarke have this one ? He may be a good 
hack^ though a bad chaise-horse." The change 
was made, and young Clarke got Mr. Wesley's 
horse, of which he was not a little proud, because 
it had been the property of the founder of Meth- 
odism. However the horse might have done that 
Mr. Wesley took, that of Mr. Clarke's proved to 
be one of the most dangerous animals ever 
mounted. He scarcely ever rode him a journey 
of ten miles in which he did not fall at least once, 
and by this his life was often brought in danger. 
His friends often tried to persuade him to dispose 
of this dangerous beast, but his affection for Mr, 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 


Wesley, its former owner, caused him to turn a 
deaf ear to every entreaty and remonstrance, as he 
was afraid if he parted with the animal he would 
fall into hands that would not use him well. One 
evening the horse fell, as was his custom, and 
pitched Mr. Clarke directly over his head. There 
had been a severe frost, the ground was frozen 
hard, and he was greatly injured, and lay for a 
long time senseless. His spine was so injured that 
he did not wholly recover for more than three 
years. After that narrow escape he was persuaded 
to part with his horse, which he changed with a 
farmer who had a high reverence for Mr. Wesley, 
and promised to use the horse mercifully. 

John Wesley and the Land's End. 

The "Land's End" has been immortalized in 
one of his brother's hymns : 

" Lo ! on a narrow neck of land, 
'Twixt two unbounded seas I stand 
Secure, insensible." 

John Wesley admired this singular promontory, 
and visited it more than once. In 1785, when the 
shadows of the evening were gathering around 
him, he made his last visit. He was then over 
eighty years old. Mr. Wesley loved to see natural 
curiosities, and especially nature in her delicious 
wildness. "We went," says he, "to the Land's 
End, in order to which we clambered down the 

278 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

rocks to the very edge of the water. I cannot but 
think the sea has gained some hundreds of yards 
since I was there forty years ago." It was singular 
to behold an old man, oyer fourscore years, with 
white hair, furrowed cheeks, and infirm limbs climb- 
ing oyer huge steep rocks that hung in precipices 
oyer the sea to get a better view of a bold pro- 
montory where two oceans meet ! 

John Wesley and the Gout. 

It is supposed that none have the gout but 
high livers, the intemperate, or the indolent. This 
is not true. 5 Tis a singular fact, which none of his 
biographers have noticed, that both his father and 
mother were afflicted with the gout, and their 
gifted son also. And they were among the most 
industrious, temperate, and frugal people in the 
world. Mr. Wesley says Dr. Cadogan asserts 
" there is no such thing as hereditary gout ;" that 
it is generally owing to one or more of three 
causes, namely, intemperance, indolence, or irregu- 
lar passions. Mr. Wesley admits that the far 
greater part of our chronical distempers are con- 
tracted by ourselves, but not all. He says, " I am 
a living witness of the contrary, even with regard 
to the gout. Those who know me do not charge 
me with intemperance, either in meat or drink. 
I am not indolent ; I never travel much less than 
five thousand miles a year, and I bless God I have 
no violent passions ; yet I have within these thirty 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 279 

years (since 1744) had the gout nine or ten times, 
of which my father was frequently ill, and my 
mother died." 

John Wesley and Doctor Beattie. 

Mr. Wesley, near the close of his life, preached 
at Aberdeen. He was exceedingly fatigued both 
in body and mind, and his sermon did not come 
up to his usual standard. Among his auditors was 
Doctor Beattie, who was delighted with what he 
heard, and notwithstanding the lassitude of the 
speaker, said, "If it was not a masterly sermon, 
yet none but a master could have preached it." 

John Wesley and Wrestling Jacob. 

John Wesley was a great admirer of his brother 
Charles's hymns, particularly " Wrestling Jacob," 
which Dr. Watts said was worth more than all 
the poetry he had ever written. After the death 
of Fletcher, his brother Charles, and others, Mr. 
Wesley visited a certain place, and before preach- 
ing gave out the hymn of his brother's which 

"Come, thou Traveler unknown, 
Whom still I hold but cannot see ; 

My company before is gone, 
And I am left alone with thee." 

While repeating the last two lines his speech began 
to falter, and the tears flowed down his cheeks. 

280 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

The effect was electrical. The whole audience 
became deeply affected, and many " sorrowed, most 
of all because they were persuaded they should 
see his face no more." 

John Wesley and Robert Hopkins. 

Mr. Hopkins, in the early part of his life, was in 
company with John Wesley and several other 
friends. In conversation Mr. Wesley referred to 
the opinion Dr. Watts had expressed concerning 
" Wrestling Jacob," and added, with great emo- 
tion, " O what would Dr. Watts have said if he 
had seen my brother's two exquisite funeral hymns, 

" How happy every child of grace 
"Who knows his sins forgiven." 

And the other, commencing 

" Come, let us join our friends above 
That have obtained the prize." 

Wesley's Sermon on Slavery. 

In 1788 the subject of slavery was producing a 
great excitement in England. It was the general 
topic for the press and the pulpit. In the early 
part of March Mr. Wesley preached on the subject 
at Bristol, on a week evening, by previous an- 
nouncement. The house was crowded with high 
and low, rich and poor. He preached on that 
ancient prophecy, " God shall enlarge Japhet : and 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 


he shall dwell in the tents of Shem, and Canaan 
shall be his servant." Mr. Wesley says, "About 
the middle of the discourse, while there was on 
every side attention still as night, a vehement noise 
arose, none could tell why, and shot like lightning 
through the whole congregation. The terror and 
confusion were inexpressible. You might have im- 
agined it was a city taken by storm. The people 
rushed upon each other with the utmost violence ; the 
benches were broke in pieces ; and nine tenths of 
the congregation appeared to be struck with the 
same panic. In about six minutes the storm 
ceased, almost as suddenly as it rose ; and, all being 
calm, I went on without the least interruption. It 
was the strangest incident of the kind I ever re- 
member ; and I believe none can account for it with- 
out supposing some preternatural influence. Satan 
fought lest his kingdom should be delivered up." * 

Wesley and Walpole. 

Robert Walpole, the distinguished Minister of 
State, with a strange character and a most singular 
history, had a favorite saying, " Do not tell me of 
your virtue or religion. I tell you every man has 
his price." Mr. Wesley replies, "Yes, Sir Robert, 
every man like you ; every one that sells himself 
to the devil." f 

* Wesley's Journal. 

f His eldest brother, Samuel Wesley, Jun., freely lampooned 
Sir Robert Walpole, the Whig Minister of the day, in several 
poetic satires. 

282 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

Wesley and Horace Walpole. 

Horace Walpole was the son of Robert. He 
was a man of talents, a scholar and author, and a 
member of Parliament. 

In 1766 John Wesley preached at Bath, in Lady 
Huntingdon's Chapel. Among his auditors were 
several persons of distinction, and among others 
Horace Walpole, who thus describes the preacher 
and his sermon : " Wesley is a lean, elderly man, 
fresh colored, his hair smoothly combed, with curls 
at the ends, wondrous clean, but as evident an 
actor as Garrick. He spoke his sermon, but so 
fast and with so little accent I am sure he had often 
uttered it. There were parts and eloquence in it, 
but toward the end he exalted his voice too much." 
He says, " Agnes, the Scottish Countess of Buchan, 
was present." She was the mother of the cele- 
brated Lord Erskine, and was so greatly attached 
to Mr. Wesley he was sometimes called her chaplain. 

Wesley and Itinerancy. 

A great effort has been made on both sides of 
the Atlantic to destroy the plan of itinerancy. 
Mr. Wesley, though he could, like Paul, become all 
things to all men that by all means he might 
save some, was, when necessary, as firm as a rock. 
The Trustees at Dewsbury contended for the right 
of rejecting any minister ajDpointed at their chapel. 
Mr. Wesley saw that to yield this point would 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 


destroy tne itinerancy, root and branch. He wrote 
to them thus : 

" To the Trustees of Dewsbury. 

"London, July 30, 1788. 
" My Dear Brethren : The question between 
us is, 'By whom shall the Preachers sent from 
time to time to Dewsbury be judged ? ' You say, 
I 'By the Trustees.' I say, 'By their peers,' the 
Preachers met in Conference. You say, ' Give up 
this, and we will receive them.' I say, 'I cannot, 
dare not give up this.' Therefore, if you will not 
receive them on these terms you renounce your 
connection with 

" Your affectionate brother, 

" John Wesley." 

John Wesley and the Refractory Trustees. 

The subject of dispute at North Shields was of 
the same nature as that which had caused the dis- 
turbance at Dewsbury, in which Mr. Wesley mani- 
fested equal firmness in maintaining the discipline 
which he considered necessary for the preservation 
of the Methodist system. Had he faltered, the evils 
which would inevitably have followed would have 
been of the most destructive character. The fol- 
lowing epistle of Mr. Wesley shows his nerve and 
decision of character : 

''Dublin, April 11, 1789. 
" I require you three, Peter Mill, Joseph Thomp- 
son, and John Stamp, without consulting or regard- 

284 Anecdotes of the We* leys. 

ing any person whatever, to require a positive 
answer of Edward Coats within three weeks after 
the receipt of this: 'Will you, or will you not, 
settle the house at Milburn Place (North Shields) 
on the Methodist plan?' If he will not do it 
within another week, I further require that none of 
you preach in that house unless you will renounce 
all connection with 

" Tour affectionate brother, 

" Jonx Wesley. 

" I am at a point I will be trifled with no longer." 

This spirit, so like Luther's or John Knox's, 
preserved the itinerant plan in all its strength and 

— ■ 

Wesley and the Despairing Man. 

In May, 1790, the year before Wesley's death, 
he visited Newcastle for the last time. Charles 
Atmore, author of " Memorials of Methodism," thus 
describes him : " He appeared very feeble, and no 
wonder, he being in the eighty-eighth year of his 
age. His sight had failed so much he could not 
see to give out the hymn, yet his voice was strong, 
and his spirits remarkably lively. Surely this great 
and good man is the prodigy of the present age." 

While at Newcastle Mr. Wesley preached several 
times, once out of doors to thousands, and once to 
children. The sermon to the children was literally 
composed in words of not more than two syllables. 

Mr. Atmore observes that "in the last visit to 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 285 

Newcastle Mr. Wesley was highly honored in his 
ministry, particularly in the case of one who had 
been in a state of great despair for many years. 
As soon as Wesley arrived at the Orphan House 
he inquired after the despairing man, and I accom- 
panied him. As soon as we entered the room 
where the poor man was he went up to him, and 
as a messenger of God said, 6 Brother Reed, I have 
a word from God unto thee : Jesus Christ maketh 
thee whole.' He then knelt down to pray, and 
such a season I have seldom experienced. Hope 
instantly sprung up, and despair gave place, and 
although he had not been out of his habitation, 
nor even from his wretched bed, for several years, 
he went that evening to hear Mr. Wesley preach ; 
while God graciously confirmed the testimony of 
his servant in restoring him to the 'light of his 
countenance. 5 " * 

This was a double cure. It reminds us of the 
leper, of whom it is said, "Immediately he was 
cleansed." It was a fulfillment of an ancient 
prophecy, "Then shall the lame man leap as a 
hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing." 

Wesley and Rankin. 

There was a meeting of Traveling and Local 
Preachers at the City Road Chapel, London, at 
which Mr. Wesley presided. At the breakfast 
meeting* one of the Local Preachers arose and 

* Weslcyan Magazine, Feb., 1845, page 120, 

286 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

found fault with an older preacher. Thomas Ran- 
kin (whom Mr. Wesley greatly esteemed, and re- 
membered in his will,) said, " Sir, you are a young 
man, and ought not to find fault with a senior 
brother." Mr. Wesley instantly arose and replied, 
" I will thank the youngest man among you to tell 
me of any fault you see, or believe you see, in me ; 
in doing so I shall consider you my best friend." 
This observation put a stop to all further remarks, 
for it was felt to be in accordance with Mr. Wes- 
ley's whole conduct. 

John Wesley and the Economical Man. 

" Beware," says Mr. Wesley, " of forming a hasty 
judgment concerning the fortune of others. There 
may be secrets in the situation of a person which 
few but God are acquainted with. 

" Some years ago I told a gentleman, c Sir, I am 
afraid you are covetous.' He asked me, 4 What is 
the reason of your fears?' I answered, C A year 
ago, when I made a collection for the expense of 
repairing the Foundery you subscribed five guineas. 
At the subscription made this year you subscribed 
only half a guinea.' For a time he was silent. 
After awhile he asked me a question : ' Mr. Wesley, 
why did you live upon potatoes ? ' (I did so be- 
tween three and four years.) I replied, 4 It has 
much conduced to my health.' He said, e I be- 
lieve it has. But did you not do it likewise to 
save money ?' I said, c I did, for what I save from 
my own meat will feed another that else would 

Anecdotes of the Wcslcys. 


have none.' 4 But, sir, 5 said he, - if this be your 
motive you can save more. I know a man that 
goes to market at the beginning of every week, 
there he buys a penny's worth of parsnips, which 
he boils in a large quantity of water. The pars- 
nips serve him for food and the water for drink 
during the ensuing week, so that his meat and 
drink together cost him only a penny a week. 
This he constantly did though he had two hundred 
pounds a year, in order to pay the debts he had 
contracted before he knew God.' 5 ' "And this," 
said Mr. Wesley, " is he whom I set down to be a 
covetous man." 

Wesley and Howard. 

What names are these to blend together, and 
what interests cluster around them ! They greatly 
aclniired each other. Mr. Howard called upon Mr. 
Wesley in Ireland, in 1785. Wesley, after that 
visit, in his Journal, declares him " one of the 
greatest men in Europe," and says, " Nothing but 
the mighty power of God can enable him to go 
mrough his difficult and dangerous employments." 
Howard, in turn, says of Wesley, "I was encour- 
aged by him to go on vigorously with my own de- 
signs. I saw in him how much a single man might 
achieve by zeal and perseverance ; and I thought, 
why may I not do as much in my way as Mr. 
Wesley does in his if I am only as assiduous and 
persevering? and I am determined to pursue my 
work with more alacrity than ever."* Howard 
* Alexander Knox. 


Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

had heard Wesley preach years before on " What- 
soever thy hand findeth to do," etc. That sermon 
made a powerful impression on his mind, and 
greatly influenced his conduct. 

Mr. Knox says, " that excepting Mr. Wesley, no 
man ever gave me a more perfect idea of angelic 
goodness than Mr. Howard. His whole conversa- 


tion exhibited a most interesting tissue of exalted 
piety, meekness, shnplicity, and glowing charity. 
His striking adieu I shall never forget. "Fare- 
well, sir," said he ; " when we meet again may it 
be in heaven, or further on our way to it." 

Henry Moore says, "In 1789 Howard called at 
Mr. Wesley's house in London to present him with 
his last quarto upon jails, previous to his last jour- 
ney to the continent. But Mr. Wesley was absent 
from home. He talked an hour, and on leaving 
said, 'Present my respects and love to Mr. Wesley. 
Tell him I hoped to have seen him once more. 
Perhaps we may meet again in this world ; but if 
not, we shall meet, I trust, in a better.' We hung 
upon his lips delighted. Such a picture of love, 
simplicity, and cheerfulness we have seldom seen." * 
It was not long before these two philanthropists, 
who had done so much to benefit the human race, 
met in a world where sin never enters and its evils 
are never felt. 

John Wesley and Joseph Entwisle^ 

Mr. Entwisle became one of the prominent men 
of Wesleyan Methodism, and President of the 

* Moore's Life of Wesley, page 256. 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 


Conference. In early life he was apprentice to a 
Mr. Wood, and had labored as a Local Preacher. 
Mr. Wesley twice appointed him to a circuit, and 
the preachers and many of his friends urged him 
to go. But his apprenticeship had not expired ; he 
had still a year to serve. The next year the Con- 
ference held its session in Manchester, and some 
of the preachers were entertained at Mr. Wood's 
house, and they informed Mr. Wesley of Mr. 
Wood's willingness to release young Entwisle 
from all further obligations. Wesley immediately 
appointed Joseph to Oxfordshire Circuit. He ac- 
cidentally met Mr. Wesley on the street, and was 
informed of his appointment. Still shrinking from 
the work, he hesitated a little, when Wesley laid 
his hand upon his shoulder, and fixing upon him 
his piercing eye said, with characteristic brevity 
and in a tone of authority, "Joseph, you mast 
goP Amid the toils of after years, Mr. Entwisle 
often reflected with satisfaction on the energetic 
manner and piercing look with which " you must 
go" was uttered by the venerable founder of 

Entwisle and the Stumbling Horse. 

In October, 1787, Mr. Wesley visited Joseph 
Entwisle' s first circuit, and spent several days in 
visiting and preaching. Joseph felt it a great 
honor and privilege to accompany him. They 
rode on horseback. He found Mr. Wesley exceed- 
ingly cheerful without levitv, and his conversation 

19 " 

2go Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

highly interesting and edifying. His vivacity was 
remarkable for his advanced years. 

As Mr. Wesley and Entwisle were riding on 
horseback very fast, Joseph's horse stumbled and 
fell, when he went right over his head and struck 
upon his feet unhurt. Mr. Wesley, delighted with 
his agility, exclaimed, "Well done, Joseph, I could 
not have done better than that myself." 

John Wesley and the Poet Crabbe. 

In the biography of Crabbe his son gives a brief 
scene in the last days of John Wesley. At Lowe- 
stoft, one evening, all adjourned to a dissenting 
chapel to hear the venerable John Wesley, then on 
one of the later of his peregrinations. He was ex- 
ceedingly old and infirm, and was attended and al- 
most supported in the pulpit by a young minister on 
each side. The chapel was crowded to suffocation. 

"In the course of his sermon Mr. Wesley re- 
peated, though with an application of his own, the 
lines from Anacreon : 

4 Oft am I by woman told, 
Poor Anacreon 1 thou grow'st old. 
See, thine hairs are falling ell; 
Poor ADacreon! how they fall! 
Whether I grow old or no 
By these signs I do not know ; 
But this I need not to be told, 
'Tis time to Uve, if I grow old. 

"My father was much struck by his reverend 
appearance and his cheerful air, and the beautiful 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 


cadence he gave to these lines. After the service 
he was introduced to the patriarch, who received 
him with benevolent politeness." 

The Reputation of the Methodists. 

The Rev. Mr. Walker, of Truro, was a most ex- 
cellent man, and an ardent friend of John Wesley. 
He expressed a fear lest he should he too careful 
about the reputation of the Methodists. Mr. Wes- 
ley replied, " I am just as careful about then- repu- 
tation as I am about the reputation of Prester 
John." His principal care was to save souls from 
death, and hide a multitude of sins. Duty was 
his ; results belonged to God. 

Wesley and the Disappointed Lady. 

Mr. Wesley preached at Lincoln in June, 1790, 
from " But one thing is needful." When the con- 
gregation were retiring from the chapel a lady 
who had listened to the venerable preacher ex- 
pressed great disappointment. She inquired in a 
tone of surprise, " Is this the great Mr. Wesley, of 
whom we have heard so much in the present day ? 
Why it was so plain the poorest person in the 
house could have understood him." The gentle- 
men to whom the remark was made said, "In this, 
madam, he exhibits his greatness, that while the 

292 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

poorest can understand him the most learned are 
edified, and in his discourses there is nothing to 
offend them." 

Wesley and the Zealous Papist. 

Mr. Wesley was well acquainted with Mr. Hook, 
who was a veiy zealous and eminent Papist. Mr. 
Wesley inquired of Mr. Hook, " Sir, what do you 
do for public worship here, where you have no 
Romish service ? " He answered, " Sir, I am so fully 
convinced it is the duty of every man to worship 
God in public that I go to church every Sabbath. 
If I cannot have such worship as I w^ould, I will 
have such worship as I can." 

Wesley and the Drunken Papist. 

In the year 1787 Mr. Wesley went to Wexford, 
Ireland. He preached in a large room of the mar- 
ket-house, and then administered the Lord's Sup- 
per. The Rev. James Gurley was conducting him 
to his lodgings in the evening when a drunken 
Papist came up to them with a thorny bush in his 
hand, which he presented to Mr. Wesley, saying, 
" O, sir, see what a fine smell this bush has ! " 
Mr. Gurley saw at once into his design, and said, 
"Begone, you scoundrel, or I will knock you 
down." He was alarmed, and fled. Mr. Wesley 
inquired, " Brother Gurley, why did you speak 
after that manner to the man?" "Sir," he re- 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


plied, " if I had not prevented him he would have 
thrust the thorns into your face and eyes, wound- 
ing, or perhaps blinding you." " Why would he 
hurt me ? " said Mr. Wesley. Mr. Gurley an- 
swered, " You know the devil hates you, and so 
do his children." 

Wesley and John Brown. 

Wesley made his last visit to York in May, 
1788. He was then an old man, well stricken in 
years — a shock of corn fully ripe for the garner of 
God. In his sermon he mentioned that John 
Brown of Haddington, on his deathbed, in reck- 
oning up the mercies of God, acknowledged his 
having kept him from " following that man of sin, 
John Wesley." " But," said the venerable preacher, 
rubbing his hands, and looking upward, " I hope 
to meet John Brown in heaven, and join him in 
the praises of God and the Lamb." * 

Wesley and Joseph Burgess. 

Wesley was not only a cheerful old man, but was 
full of devotional spirit. This was exhibited on all 
occasions, particularly at meals, and in company. 

Two years before he died he visited the bar- 
racks at Sligo. Joseph Burgess was connected 
with them. Mr. Wesley and he were intimate 
friends. As Mr. Wesley's carriage stopped at 
* Methodist Magazine. 1827, page 526. 

294 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

the barrack-gate Mr. Burgess went out to meet 
him, and was saluted by the venerable patriarch 
with an affectionate kiss. It was Mr. Wesley's 
custom to comply with the apostolic injunction, 
" Salute one another with a holy kiss." There 
was a large party at dinner who had met to enjoy 
the society of the founder of Methodism. While 
they were dining Mr. Wesley suddenly laid down 
his knife and fork, and clasping his hands, looked 
up as in the attitude of prayer and praise. In a 
moment all were silent. He then gave out and 
sang, with great animation, the following : 

" And can we forget 

In tasting our meat, 
The angelical food which ere long we shall eat, 

"When, enrolled with the blest, 

In glory we rest, 
And forever sit down at the heavenly feast ? " 

The whole company were affected; a peculiar 
solemnity and hallowed feeling rested upon them 
all. They then finished their dinner. He preached 
in the evening, slept at the barracks, and preached 
again at five the next morning. Mr. Burgess 
bade adieu to his venerable friend, fearing he 
should see his face no more, and expecting " ne'er 
to look upon his like again." 

Wesley and Garrick. 

In 1790 Mr. Wesley read the Life of Mrs. Bel- 
lamy. He calls it " a pretty trifle," and says, 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 295 

" Surely never did any writer since John Dry den 
study more 

' To make vice pleasing and damnation shine ' 

than this lovely and elegant writer." 

Mrs. Bellamy tells the following anecdote con- 
cerning Garrick : " When he was taking ship for 
England a lady presented him with a parcel, which 
she desired him not to open till he was at sea. 
When he opened it he found Wesley's hymns, 
which he immediately threw overboard." 

On this. Wesley remarks, "I cannot believe it. 
I think Mr. Garrick had more sense. He knew 
my brother well, and he knew him to be not only 
far superior in learning, but in poetry, to Mr. 
Thomson and all his theatrical writers put to- 
gether. Neither of them can equal him either in 
strong nervous sense or purity and elegance of 
language. The musical compositions of his sons 
are not more excellent than the poetical ones of 
their father." 

Wesley and the Silver Medal. 

Whitefield presented to Wesley, as a token of 
friendship, a silver medal. Wesley preserved it 
for years, then he gave it to Thomas Rankin. Mr. 
Rankin valued it highly, and kept it very care- 
fully for a long time. Before his death he told 
Adam Clarke that he had willed the medal to him, 
but that he might as well receive it now, saying, 
" Mr. Wesley gave it to me, but I now choose to 

296 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

give it to you with my own hands, and I shall use 
the same words in giving it which Mr. Wesley 
used when he gave it to me : e Thus we scatter 
our playthings, and soon we'll scatter our dust.' " 

John Wesley and Jonathan Crowther. 

Many of Mr. Wesley's itinerants suffered from 
extreme poverty. He sympathized with them, did 
all he could to supply their wants, and thus cheer 
them on in their work. In 1788 Jonathan Crow- 
ther wrote to Mr. Wesley concerning his empty 
purse. Wesley wrote the following characteristic 
reply : " The sum of the matter is, ' you want 
money,' and money you shall have if I can beg, 
borrow, or any thing but steal. I say, therefore, 
c Dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.' 
Our preachers find in the north of Scotland what 
we found ail over England, yet they went on ; and 
when I had only blackberries to eat in Cornwall, 
still God gave me strength to do my work." * 

Wesley on "the Sessions." 

Wesley was a great stickler for order and dis- 
cipline. He believed it was the preachers and the 
people's business to "keep the Methodist rules, 
not to mend them." 

In Glasgow in 1789 they undertook, as in many 
* Wesley's "Works, vol. vii, page 258. 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 297 

other places, to do some ecclesiastical tinkering. 
They had Methodist sessions, so called. Mr. Wes- 
ley heard of it when in Ireland, and he wrote to 
Mr. Crowther thus : 

" My dear Brother : 6 Sessions ! elders ! We 
Methodists have no such custom, neither any of 
the Churches of God under my care. I require 
you, Jonathan Crowther, to dissolve that sessions 
(so called) at Glasgow. Discharge them from 
meeting any more. If they will leave the Society 
let them leave it. We acknowledge only preach- 
ers, stewards, and leaders among us, over whom 
the assistant of each circuit presides. You ought 
to have kept to the Methodist plan from the be- 
ginning. Who had any authority to vary from 
it ? If the people of Glasgow or any other place 
are weary of us we will leave them to themselves ; 
but we are willing to be still their servants for 
Christ's sake according to our own Discipline, but 
no other." 

John Wesley and William Jay. 

Mr. Jay was personally acquainted with John 
Wesley, and heard him preach when time had 
shaken him by the hand, and the shadows of the 
evening were gathering around him. He thus de- 
scribes it in his autobiography : " Once I went 
with Wesley into Bristol in his carriage, and heard 
him preach from Eph. v, 8. It was the only op- 
portunity I ever had of hearing this truly apostoli- 

298 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

qal man. The whole scene was very picturesque 
and striking. Several preachers stood in the large 
pulpit around him. The service was short, the 
sermon terse and good, but entirely devoid of ex- 
pansion and imagery, while the delivery was low 
and unanimated. This surprised me. Was 'it the 
influence and effect of age ? If it was originally 
the same, how came he to be so popular among 
the rude multitudes which always attended him, 
and so hung upon his lips ? Whitefield's voice, 
and vehemence, and strong emotions, will in some 
measure account for the impressions he produced, 
even regardless of the grace of God which accom- 
panied them. How popular and useful was Ber- 
ridge ! Yet he had nothing of the vulgar orator in 
his manner. It was plain and unimpassioned. 
This was also the case with many of the original 
corps of evangelists." 

Wesley and the Offended Lady. 

Two years before Mr. Wesley died he said, " For 
many years a great person professed, and I believe 
had, a great regard for me. I therefore believed it 
my duty to speak with all freedom, which I did in a 
long letter. But she was so displeased she said to 
a friend, c; I hate Mr. Wesley above all creatures 
upon earth. 5 ' How his fidelity charged the milk 
of human kindness into wormwood and gall ! 
Alas ! how few can bear to be honestly told their 
faults, even by a friend ! 

Anecdotes of the We s leys. 299 

Worldly Wisdom. 

Mr. Wesley was going through Ireland like a 
flame of fire. Many could not account for his un- 
paralleled labors, some attributing them to love of 
wealth, others to love of power, others to a love of 
honor. In a large company a lady spoke eulogisti- 
cally of the great labors of Wesley, and concluded 
by expressing very strongly her opinion of his dis- 
interestedness. A gentleman present was full of in- 
dignation at the sentiment she expressed, and could 
contain himself no longer, but exclaimed, "Dear 
madam, you spoil ail ! You would make him out 
a fool. We all know Mr. Wesley is a great man, 
a gentleman, a scholar, a philanthropist, a very 
great man ; but depend upon it he knows what he 
is about. Wait and see. Disinterestedness ! No, 
madam ; you may be certain he is no such fool ! " 

Wesley and the Hasty Minister. 

The grand design of discipline is amendment, to 
save the offending party. A young surgeon will 
amputate a limb at once ; but one older and more 
experienced will try in every possible way to save 
it, and amputation will be the last resort. So it is 
in the administration of discipline. A minister at 
Limerick wrote Mr. Wesley a letter full of vehe- 
mence concerning the abuse he had received from 
the young men in Limerick, starting his determina- 
tion to put them all out of Society if they did not 

300 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

acknowledge their fault. Mr. Wesley wondered 
exceedingly what could be the matter, and wrote to 
him one line : " I never put any out of our Society 
for any thing they say of me" 

Wesley and the Itinerancy. 

A Scotch lady wrote to Mr. Wesley requesting to 
have always the same preachers remain in Scotland, 
showing the advantages that would follow. This 
was three years before he died. Mr. Wesley re- 
plied, " It is certain many persons in Scotland and 
England would be well pleased to have the same 
preachers always; but we cannot. forsake the plan 
of acting which we have followed from the begin- 
ning. For fifty years God has been pleased to 
bless the itinerant plan, the last year most of all. 
It must not be altered till I am removed; and 
I hope it will remain till our Lord comes to reign 
pon the earth." 

Wesley and Evil Report and Good Report. 

As the shadows of the evening of life were 
gathering around Wesley he said, " Many years 
ago I was saying I cannot imagine how Mr. White- 
field can keep his soul alive, as he is not now 
going through honor and dishonor, evil report and 
good report, having nothing but honor and good 
report wherever he goes. It is now my own case. 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 301 

I am now just in the condition he was then in. 
I am become, I know not how, an honorable man. 
The scandal of the cross is ceased, and all the king- 
dom, rich and poor, Papists and Protestants, behave 
with courtesy, nay, and seeming good will. It 
seems as if I had well-nigh finished my course, and 
our Lord was giving me an honorable discharge." 

Wesley and his Youthful Escort. 

In 1790, the year before Wesley died, he made 
his last visit to the Society at Hull. He was then 
a father in Israel. His " hoary head was a crown 
of glory." Every-where he was received as an 
object of interest, and his approach was hailed with 
joy. He was to preach in Beverly on his way to 
Hull. About forty persons in carriages and on 
horseback met him there to escort him to Hull. 
After hearing him preach, most of the party dined 
with him at his inn. His conversation sparkled 
with life, and was interesting in the highest degree ; 
but, as usual, it was not prolonged. They were 
instructed and delighted. When the conversation 
had reached the height of interest, and the de- 
lighted listeners had forgotten home and the way 
that led to it, Mr. Wesley pulled out his watch, 
started on his feet, and said his time was up, bade 
them good-day, and his coach being ready, no 
entreaties could detain him a moment. The party 
harnessed their horses and followed as fast as they 
could ; but it was with no small difficulty some of 

302 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

them succeeded in joining the line of piocession 
by the time it reached the suburbs of Hull. Punc- 
tuality was with Mr. Wesley a very great virtue. 
He felt very much amused when he learned the 
particulars of the hurry into which his punctuality 
had put his youthful friends ; and perhaps we 
are remotely indebted to the innocent pleasantry 
it excited for the following beautiful picture of 
religious old age, which he inserted in his Journal 
during his stay in Hull : " This day I enter my 
eighty-eighth year. For eighty-six years I found 
none of the infirmities of old age ; my eye did not 
wax dim, nor was my natural strength abated. 
But last August I found almost a sudden change. 
My eyes were so dim no glasses would help me. 
My strength likewise now forsook me, and prob- 
ably will not return again in this world. But I feel 
no pain from head to foot, only it seems nature is 
exhausted, and, humanly speaking, will sink more 
and more till 

The wheels of weary life stand still at last." * 

John Wesley and the Courageous Woman. 

In 1788 Mr. Wesley was preaching in the mar- 
ket place in Langhamrow from, " It is appointed 
unto man once to die." Nearly every one in the 
congregation listened attentively to the solemn 
truths Mr. Wesley delivered concerning man's mor- 
tality ; but a few in the outskirts, being otherwise 
* Weslejan Magazine, 1836, page 494, 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


disposed, hurled various missiles, with the design 
of annoying the attentive congregation and the 
venerable preacher. In those days females wore 
stays which allowed a bone to be drawn out at 
pleasure. An old lady, enraged at the conduct of 
the disturbers, indignantly snatched a bone out of 
her stays and dealt among them vigorous blows. 
If not the weapon, the arm that wielded it quelled 
the rebels, and they sued for peace. Order was re- 
stored, and the venerable minister finished his last 
message in that place without further interruption.* 

. — 

Wesley and the Superannuated Organ. 

Wesley made his last visit to Langhamrow 
July 2, 17SS. He preached in the morning; and 
though the chapel had been enlarged a short time 
before to double its former size, it could not con- 
tain half that came to hear. The calm and placid 
tenderness which fifty years' close walk with God 
had settled on his countenance made him an object 
of great interest, The crowd gazed upon him as if 
he was an inhabitant of the spirit -land who had come 
to visit them. He read with emphasis his own hymn, 
commencing, "I thirst, thou wounded Lamb of 
God." The organ was an inferior one, in a di- 
lapidated condition, and it made most discordant 
music, which very much annoyed Mr. Wesley. 
When they had sung the first verse he said, " Let 
that organ stop, and let the women take their parts." 
* Primitive Methodist Magazine. 17SS. page 175. 

304 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

" They cannot sing without," replied Mr. Robinson, 
the chorister. Mr. Wesley then inquired, "How 
did they do before they got one?" The organ 
stopped, and the congregation proceeded with the 
singing. His text was, "The harvest is past, 
the summer is ended, and we are not saved." The 
sermon was a combination of terror and tenderness. 
It fell from his lips like the waters of a gently flow- 
ing fountain. There was but little motion, except 
occasionally raising his right hand. His hearers 
were motionless as they gazed upon his venerable 
form, while his calm and solemn tones seemed like 
sounds from the other world. He was then eighty- 
five. After the sermon his aged hearers flocked 
around him to shake his hand, and say, " The Lord 
bless thee." Mr. Wesley gave them his benedic- 
tion, and bade them farewell till they should meet 
in the mansions above. 

Wesley's Countenance. 

There is much in "the human face divine" — in 
the eye, as well as the tone of the preacher's voice. 
There are periods when the countenance expresses 
volumes, and preaches efficient sermons. Mr. Wes- 
ley's face on the last morning that he preached in 
Langhamrow produced lasting impressions. A 
young man who was full of hilarity and mirth 
had on the way to Church kept saying to his com- 
panions, with an air of carelessness, " This fine 
Mr. Wesley I shall hear, and get converted." 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s, 305 

He did hear him, but tie had never gazed upon 
such a countenance before. It put him in a more 
serious frame, and for a long time, day and night, 
whether at home or abroad, that wonderful coun- 
tenance was before him, so full of solemnity and 
benignity. It was the means of his conversion. 
He united with the Church, and was a useful Class 

Nor is this an isolated case. William, one of 
*he sons of Vincent Perronet, Vicar of Shoreham, 
was awakened and led to the knowledge of the 
truth by the sight of the heavenly countenance of 
the seraphic Fletcher. He often said that the 
first sight of Mr. Fletcher fixed an impression upon 
his mind that never wore off till it issued in a real 
conversion to God.* 

Wesley and Henry Moore- 
Henry Moore was the intimate friend of Wesley, 
his amanuensis, one of his executors, and his bi- 
ographer. The enemies of Mr. Wesley have rep- 
resented him as dogmatical and imperious. The 
following anecdote represents his character in a 
very different light. At a certain time Mr. and 
Mrs. Moore were sitting with Mr. Wesley at sup- 
per, and Mr. Wesley made some statements to 
which Mr. Moore most emphatically objected, and 
stated his reasons. Mr. Wesley looking very ear- 
nestly at him said, " Henry Moore, you are a wit- 
ness that what John Atlay said of me is false ; in 

* Benson's Fletcher, chap, vi, 

306 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

the pamphlet he wrote after he left us, he said, 
c Mr. Wesley never could bear a man who contra- 
dieted him.' Now no man in England has contra- 
dicted me so much as you have done, Henry, and 
yet I love you still. You are right." 

Wesley and the Burglars. 

Mr. Wesley writes, " On Saturday, 20th of No- 
vember, 1784, two or three men broke into our 
house in London through the kitchen window. 
Thence they came into the parlor and broke open 
Mr. Moore's bureau, where they found two or three 
pounds; the night before I had prevented his 
leaving there seventy pounds which he had just 
received. They next broke open the cupboard, 
and took away some silver spoons. Just at that 
time the alarum, which Mr. Moore, by mistake, had 
set for half past three instead of four, went off, as 
it did, with a thundering noise. At this the thieves 
ran away with all speed, though their work was 
not half done, and the whole damage which we 
sustained scarcely amounted to six pounds." * 

Wesley, Moore, and the Communion. 

A lady very intimately acquainted with Henry 
Moore, Adam Clarke, and Richard Watson, was 
with the latter when he was dying, and to her 
he uttered his last words. Familiarly calling 
her by name, he said, " Maria, they are not very 
* Journal, vol. vi, page 8. 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 307 

distinct yet." "What, sir," she inquired. No 
answer was returned, for angels had whispered, 
" Sister spirit, come away," 

and his great soul had returned to God. This lady 
related to the editor of this volume the following 
anecdote, which she received from the lips of Mr. 
Moore : 

One Sunday Mr. Wesley preached at the City 
Road Chapel, after which the Lord's Supper was 
administered. Mr. Moore heard him preach, and 
at the close of the sermon was about to leave. 
Mr. Wesley said, "Brother Moore, you are not 
going before the sacrament." He replied, "Yes, 
sir." Mr. Wesley inquired, "Why do you go?" 
Mr. Moore answered, " Because I cannot commune 
with such a man ;" naming one whose life was not 
in accordance with his profession. Mr. Wesley 
said, " I could commune with the devil." " So 
could I," replied Mr. Moore, " but not if Mr. Wes- 
ley gave him & permit" What excited Mr. Moore's 
righteous indignation was the fact that Mr. Wes- 
ley had given a permit to a person to partake of 
the Lord's Supper in whose piety he knew Henry 
Moore had no confidence whatever. 

Wesley's Laconic Advice to Henry Moore. 

Henry Moore presided at a meeting of Local 
Preachers in London, where a proposition was 
made to abandon preaching in a certain village. 
Several reasons were assigned for so doing. First, 


308 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

The congregation was very small, generally less 
than twenty persons. Second, The journey em- 
braced full twenty-four miles' walking. Mr. Moore 
was extremely reluctant to abandon the place. 
Several persons, however, argued in favor of going 
there no more. A Local Preacher was rather ob- 
streperous in his opposition, and said to Mr. Moore, 
"You gentlemen preachers, always stopping in 
large towns, know nothing about it." The vener- 
able chairman being roused, and twitching his 
waistcoat repeatedly, which he was wont to do 
when he was excited, replied, " Don't I know any 
thing about it ? I don't know any thing about it ! 
I wish you to understand, boy, I do know some- 
thing about it. Not long after I entered upon my 
work I sometimes knew what hunger was, having 
traveled all day, preached three or four times, and 
had no food except a turnip or carrot by the road- 
side. Once I borrowed J. B.'s coat while my own 
was being patched at the elbows ; my board-wages 
were then about half a crown per week. I wrote 
to Mr. Wesley, detailing my situation and request- 
ing his help. What was Mr. Wesley's answer ? 

£ Dear Hexry : Unto you it is given, in the be- 
half of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also 
to suffer for his sake. Take the cup with thank- 

c I am, dear Henry, your affectionate brother, 

' J. Wesley.' " 

On the recital of this by the old hero of a hun- 
dred battles the " boys " were hushed into silence, 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 309 

all opposition ceased, and they resolved to con- 
tinue their work as before, and Heaven crowned it 
with success, and in the village they were about 
to abandon there is a commodious chapel and a 
flourishing society. 

Contrast between John and Charles Wesley. 

John Wesley, in talking of the new and difficult 
circumstances in which he and his brother Charles 
often found themselves placed in the days of their 
early ministry, said, " My brother Charles would 
say, 4 Well, if the Lord would give me wings I 
would fly.' I used to say, 'Brother, if he bid 
me fly I would trust him for the wings. 5 " This 
account is highly illustrative of the character of 
the two brothers: John Wesley had more confi- 
dence, Charles more caution. It pleased the great 
Head of the Church to use both these dispositions 
to promote the knowledge of that salvation which 
myriads both in earth and heaven are now en- 
joying. 5 ' Henry Moore describes the distinctive 
peculiarities of their preaching thus : " John's 
preaching was all principles; Charles's all apho- 
risms." Charles, in a private letter, thus states the 
difference between him and John : " His brother's 
maxim was, 'First the Methodists, then the 
Church ;' whereas his was, fi First the Church, then 
the Methodists ;' " and that this difference arose 
from the peculiarity of their natural temperament. 
" My brother," said he, " is all hope, I am all fear." * 
* Jackson's Life of Wesley, page 785. 


3IO Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

Wesley Leading Class. 

When Wesley made his last visit to Ireland 
he was eighty-seven years old. Mr. Joseph 
Stopford used to meet in class, in Dublin, with 
James Rogers and his wife, the excellent Hester 
Ann Rogers, of blessed memory, and heard her 
relate her experience while her face shone with 
wonderful beauty. Mr. Wesley was in the habit 
of meeting the classes often. He did so in Dublin 
at that time, and then renewed their quarterly 
tickets. Mr. Stopford said, " I well remember the 
personal appearance of the little man, and his 
method of meeting the class. He would call the 
name of each of the members, and they would 
leave their seat and come before him, and then he 
would ask them some plain, searching questions, 
and after their answers give them some excellent 
advice, right to the point, and remarkable for 
brevity as well as adaptation." Mr. Stopford said, 
" Notwithstanding his great age he was very vig- 
orous, for the moment he had finished his prayer 
he was off his knees and on his feet." 

Wesley and Irish Methodism. 

Wesley and his brother Charles spent much of 
their time in Ireland. At a very early day sev- 
eral Leaders in London lamented that they should 
spend so much time in Ireland, and send so many 
preachers there, and they expressed their regrets 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 311 

to John Wesley. He replied with characteristic 
brevity, " Have patience, and Ireland will repay 
you." How prophetic ! Ireland has repaid a 
thousand fold. Think of Philip Embury, Robert 
Strawbridge, Thomas Walsh, Gideon Ouseley, 
Adam Clarke, Henry Moore, and hosts of other 
men she has raised up as ornaments to the Church 
and blessings to the world. 

Wesley's Last Sermon in Ireland. 

In 1790, the year before John Wesley died, Mr. 
Stopford heard the last sermon he preached in Ire- 
land. It was in Whitefriar-street Chapel, Dublin. 
The sermon was most impressive. Wesley's ven- 
erable form, his whitened locks that had adorned 
the sanctuary for so many years, were looked upon 
with a reverence and awe by the masses who were 

At the conclusion of his sermon he gave out the 

" Come, let us join our friends above 

That have obtained the prize, 
And on the eagle wings of love 

To joys celestial rise." 

The beautiful hymn has ten verses. Mr. Wesley 
commented on the sentiments of the hymn as he 
read it, and said, " There have been different views 
concerning the merits of the poetry of my brother 
Charles, but in my opinion this is the sweetest 
hymn he ever wrote." The hymn has peculiar 

312 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

beauties. Charles Wesley throws open the gates 
of heayen and introduces us to our loved ones who 
have preceded us to the climes of bliss. 

Wesley's Farewell to Ireland. 

Mr. Stopford was among the number who fol- 
lowed Mr. Wesley to the shore on his final de- 
parture from Ireland. His father took breakfast 
with him the morning he sailed for England. 

It was a touching scene, and strikingly resem- 
bled Paul and the Ephesians, who followed him 
down to the shore, and wept " the most of all for the 
words which he spake, that they should see his face 
no more." So it was with the patriarch of Meth- 
odism. Multitudes followed him down to the ship. 
Time had done its work ; " the keepers of the 
house trembled, and the strong man bowed him- 
self." Wesley was then eighty-seven years old. 
Before he went on board the vessel he gave out a 
hymn, and they sang. He then kneeled with mul- 
titudes upon the ground, and offered a fervent 
prayer for those who were present, for their fam- 
ilies, and for God's blessing upon the Churm, and 
especially upon Ireland. He then shook hands 
with them. Many wept, and a number fell upon 
his neck and kissed him. The scene was tenderly 
impressive. After Mr. Wesley went on board the 
ship he stood upon the deck with uplifted hands 
blessing them, while those on the shore waved their 
handkerchiefs till the winds of heaven wafted him 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 313 

out of their sight, and they beheld him no more. 
I have heard Mr. Stopford relate it with peculiar 
emotion when he himself was over ninety years of 

Wesley and John Standering. 

The writer of this volume has seen and con- 
versed with a few men who personally knew John 
Wesley. One of them was John Standering, who 
died not long ago in the home for aged and infirm 
Methodists in New York. He delighted to talk 
of seeing John Wesley when he was a little boy. 
One of his stories was the following : " Mr. Wes- 
ley dedicated a new chapel at Manchester-street in 
Oldham, Lancashire. It was the last chapel he 
dedicated. The stationed preacher was Joshua 
Marsden. Mr. Wesley was of small stature, aged 
and wrinkled, and feeble in body, and yet his 
voice was strong. He wore a three-cornered cocked 
hat, gown, and bands. There was an immense 
concourse of people. After the sermon Mr. Wes- 
ley requested all the children to sit around the 
altar, and he passed around, laid his hands upon 
their heads, and offered a prayer for each child. 
John Standering was among the number, and till 
the hour of his death he loved to talk of the time 
when the venerated Wesley laid his hands on his 
head and gave him his benediction. This illus- 
trates the trait in Mr. Wesley's character which 
we have noticed, his great love for the children ; 
and they in return loved him. 

314 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

Mr. Wesley then requested the people to sing 
his brother's hymn, "Wrestling Jacob, 55 and he 
joined heartily in the singing. 

" Come, thou Traveler unknown, 
Whom still I hold, but cannot see ; 

My company before is gone, 
And I am left alone with thee ! 

With thee all night I mean to stay, 

And wrestle till the break of day," 

When the singing was concluded Mr. Marsden 
looked upon Mr. Wesley's venerated form, and 
said with peculiar emotion, " Thou art not far 
from the kingdom of God. 55 

Preaching Three Times a Day. 

The last Conference John Wesley attended was 
in Bristol in 1790. He seemed to have his mind 
peculiarly impressed with the necessity of making 
some permanent rule that might lessen the exces- 
sive labors of the preachers, which he saw was 
shortening the lives of many useful men. A pri- 
vate meeting was held in his study with some of 
the principal preachers to prepare business for the 
Conference. Mr. Wesley proposed that a rule 
should be adopted that no preacher should preach 
thrice on the same day. Messrs. Mather, Pawson, 
Thompson, and others said this would be imprac- 
ticable, as it was absolutely necessary, in most 
cases, that the preachers should preach thrice every 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


Lord's clay, without which the places could not be 
supplied. Mr. Wesley replied, " It must be given 
up ; we shall lose our preachers by such excessive 
labor." They answered, " We have all done so ; 
and you, even at your advanced age, have contin- 
ued to do so." Mr. Wesley said, " What I have 
done is out of the question. My life and strength 
have been under a special Providence ; besides, 1 
know better than they how r to preach without in- 
juring myself, and no man can preach thrice a day 
without killing himself sooner or later, and the 
custom shall not be continued." Finding Mr. 
Wesley so determined they pressed the point no 
further, but they altered the Minutes when it went 
to the press, so that it read, " Xo preacher shall 
any more preach three times on the same day (to 
the same congregation.)" * 

r _ _ 

Wesley Taking the Collection. 

The old Foundery was the first place of worship 
the Methodists had in London. Many of the relics 
from the old Foundery were taken to the City Road 
Chapel, where they still are exhibited as objects oi 
interest. " Some of the pewter plates now in use 

1 in taking up a collection are the same as were in 
the Foundery. One of these was used by Mr. Wes- 

, ley on the occasion when a collection was raised 
to defray the expense of building the present edi 
lice — City Road Chapel. It is said that as he stood 

* Dr. Adam Clarke. 


Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

with this plate at the door to receive the offerings 
of the congregation, such was the enthusiasm of 
the people that it was nearly filled with gold." * 

Wesley's Last Years. 

It was currently reported that Charles Wesley 
said, a little before he died, that his brother John 
would outlive him but one year. John "Wesley 
paid but little attention to the prediction, but 
seemed to think that, considering his age, weak- 
ness, and symptoms of decay, such an event 
was highly probable ; but he made no alteration 
in his life or labors. He often said to a friend 
during that year, " Xow what ought I to do in 
case I am to die this year. I do not see what I 
can do but go on in my labor just as I have done 
hitherto. 5 ' In his Journal he says : " If this is to 
be the last year of my life I hope it will be the best. 
I am not careful about it, but heartily receive the 
advice of the angel in Milton : 

11 1 How well, is thine : how long, permit to Heaven.' " 

In Dublin he made the following remarks on his 
birthday : " This day I enter on my eighty-sixth 
year. I now find I grow old : 1. My sight is de- 
cayed, so that I cannot read a small print except 
in a strong light ; 2. My strength is decayed, so 
that I walk much slower than I did some years 
since; 3. My memory of names, whether of per- 

* Four Tears in the Old World, page 33. 

Anecdotes of the Wtslcys, 


sons or places, is decayed ; till I stop a little 
1 to recollect them. What I should be afraid of is, 
(if I took thought for the morrow.) that my body 

should weigh down my mind and create either 

stubbornness by the decrease of my understanding, 
or peevishness by the increase of bodily infirmities ; 
but thou shall answer for me, O Lord, my God." 

John Wesley at City Road ChapeL 

John Wesley, as the shadows of the evening 
were gathering around him, ascended the pulpit at 
City Road Chapel, London, and for some moments 
he looked up toward the heavens as if communing 
with the mighty dead ; then he broke the silence 
by giving out 


In the parsonage where Mr. TVesiey lived and 
died are many relics, the old chair in which he used 
to sit, the old book-case that contained his books 
and papers, " Among the rest an old tea-pot that 
holds a gallon. We were told this was made for 
Mr. Wesley to order. On one side is inscribed, as 
burned in the material by the potter, 

" Come, let us join our friends above 
That have obtained the prize." 

' Be present at our table, Lord ; 
Be here and every- where adored ; 
Thy creatures bless, and grant that we 
May feast in paradise with thee.' " 

3 18 Anecdotes of the We j leys. 

These lines were always sung before sitting down 
to tea with his helpers. On the other side of this 
ancient tea-pot were the words sung on rising from 
the table, and read thus : 

• TTe thank thee, Lord, for this our food, 
Much more because of Jesus' blood ; 
Let manna to our souls be given, 
The Bread of Life sent down from heaven.' 

These words are still used at the Methodist public 
tea-meetings, and often in private families." * 

Power of Habit. 

After Mr. Wesley's triumphant death there was 
a small tract published, giving an account of the 
wonderful scene. One was put into the hands of 
a learned and philosophical man, who seemed to 
have a real respect for religion. After reading the 
tract he said to the person who gave it to him, 
" Well, this is the most astonishing instance of the 
power of habit ! Here is a man who had been 
threescore years praying, preaching, and singing 
psalms, and, behold, he thinks of nothing else when 
he is dying ! " f 

Wesley and Shakspeare. 

Wesley was a great reader of theology, philoso- 
phy, poetry, and almost every thing else. A gen- 

* Four Years in the Old World. f Moore's Life. p. 180. 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 


tlenian in Dublin presented Mr. Wesley with a fine 
quarto edition of Shakspeare. When Mr. Wesley 
died it was found that the margin of this volume 
was filled with critical notes by Mr. Wesley him- 
self. The excellent John Pawson, one of the 
purest men that ever adorned the Church, resided 
in the parsonage, and had charge of City Road 
Chapel. He destroyed the book, and many of the 
writings of Mr. Wesley, because " he judged they 
were not among the things which tended to edifica- 
tion." Alas for the loss to literature caused by 
good John Pawson ! 

Wesley and Adam Clarke. 

The Wesleyan Conference requested Dr. Clarke 
to write a Life of Wesley. He purposed so to do, 
but was prevented. In a letter to a friend as late 
as 1829, he said, " I think I will endeayor to give a 
sketch of Mr. J. Wesley's life, with some anecdotes 
and a proper character," etc. In 1831, in another 
letter he said, " No man out of heaven is capable of 
writing Mr. Wesley's life who had not an intimate 
acquaintance with him. I lay in his bosom, and 
perhaps the world, or rather the Church, may find, 
when Adam Clarke is no more among men, that 
John Wesley is not left without a proper notice of 
the rare excellence of his life by one whom he 
affectionately loved, and who valued him more 
than he does an archangel of God." Again he 
tays, " The name of Wesley to me is sacred. I -re- 

320 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

joice in it more than in my own." Mr*. Wesley 
thought so much of Dr. Clarke that in his will he 
appointed him one of the seven trustees of his 
literary property. 

Dr. Clarke wrote the following epitaph upon Mr. 
Wesley with the point of a diamond on a pane of 
glass in his study window in Manchester : 

Good men need not marble : I dare trust glass with 
The Memory 

Late Fellow of Lincoln College, 
Oxford ; 

"Who, with indefatigable zeal and perseverance, 
Traveled these kingdoms 
Preaching Jesus 
For more than half a century. 
By his unparalleled labors and writings 
He revived and spread 
Scriptural Christianity 

Wherever he went, 
For G-od was with him. 
But having finished his work, 
By keeping, preaching, and defending, the Faith. 
He ceased to live among mortals 
March 2, MDCCXCI, 
In the Eighty-eighth year of his age. 
As a small token of continued filial respect 
This inscription 
Is humbly dedicated to the Memory of the above 
By his affectionate Son in the Gospel, 



4( God buries his workmen, but carries on his work," 




" Servant of God, well clone ! 

Thy glorious warfare's past; 
The battle's fought, the race is won. 

And thou art crowned at last! " 

Chaeles Wesley, the "sweet singer of Israel," 
was born at Epworth in 1708, five years after his 
brother John. After his home-training he went to 
Westminster school, nnder the care of Samuel, his 
eldest brother, and thence to the University of 
Oxford. Charles was a ripe scholar, thoroughly 
acquainted with the Bible, and familiar with the 
ancient classics. He was small in stature, near- 
sighted, and abrupt in his manners. He was eccen- 
tric both in youth and manhood, but it was the 
eccentricity of genius. His characteristics were 
liveliness of disposition, peculiar frankness, sterling 
integrity, love of simplicity, sparkling wit and 
humor. With his wit he silenced infidels, quelled 
mobs, confounded magistrates, priests, and bishops. 
Naturally timid, religion made him as bold as 
Luther or Knox. He could face mobs without 
fear, and sing sweetly in the midst of storms. De- 
nounced as a vagabond, arrested for treason, shut 
out of the churches, pelted with stones, beaten with 

324 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

clubs, with a spirit of unbending heroism he ex- 
claimed, " None of these things move me ! " 

Charles was the first who bore the name of 
Methodist, and as a reformer he fought side by 
side with his brother John, Whitefield, and others, 
the early battles of Methodism. As a preacher he 
was superior to John. He expressed the greatest 
truths with simplicity and energy. At times he was 
a son of thunder, perfectly overpowering, moving 
the masses as the wind moves the leaves on the 
trees in summer. As a Christian poet he has 110 
rival. His poetry is distinguished for originality, 
variety, and strength. His hymns are sung every 
Sunday by multitudes in different parts of the 
world, and will be till the songs of earth are 
blended with the anthems of heaven. John and 
Charles were very differently constituted. They 
often beheld things in a different light, and yet in 
love for each other they were like Jonathan and 
David. Charles was very fortunate in his mar- 
riage. In Miss Sarah Gwynne he found a help- 
meet indeed. They were blessed with eight chil- 
dren, some of whom possessed rare musical talent. 
After a life of uncommon labor and suffering the 
great and good man died the 29th of March, 17 78, 
in his eightieth year. The following lines, which 
Charles Wesley wrote on the death of a friend, 
were placed upon his tomb-stone : 

" TTith poverty of spirit blest, 

Rest, happv saint, in Jesus rest ; 

A sinner saved, through grace forgiven, 

Redeemed from earth to reign in heaven ! 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 325 

Thy labor of unwearied love, 
By thee forgot, and crown'd above ; 
Crovvn'd through the mercy of thy Lord, 
With a free, full, immense reward! " 


Charles Wesley and Lord Mansfield. 

When Charles Wesley was at Westminster 
.school, under the care of his brother Samuel, he 
was exceedingly sprightly and active, and so 
remarkable for courage and skill in juvenile en- 
counters with his school-fellows that he obtained 
the title of " Captain of the School." He, however, 
was as generous as he was brave, and finding a 
Scottish youth at the school whose ancestors had 
taken a part in support of the Pretender, and who 
was in consequence greatly persecuted by the other 
boys, Charles Wesley protected the lad from this 
ill treatment, fought his battles for him, and aided 
him on every necessary occasion. This boy was 
James Murray, afterward the great Lord Mans- 
field, who in the decline of life renewed his intimacy 
with Charles Wesley which was begun in their 

The Wellesleys. 

While Charles was at Westminster School, Mr. 
Garret Wesley, a rich Irish gentleman, desired to 
adopt him as his heir and take him to Ireland. 

326 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

The decision was left to Charles, and he declined 
the tempting offer. Josephus informs us that when 
Moses was a little boy, Pharaoh had a golden 
crown made and placed it on the head of the boy, 
who trampled it under his feet. So it was with 
Charles Wesley. Disappointed in the boy's re- 
fusal, Mr. Garret Wesley adopted Richard Colley, 
an Irish relative, who took the name of Wesley, 
and became the grandfather of the Marquis of 
Wellesley and the illustrious Duke of Wellington. 
John Wesley calls this "a fair escape." Had 
Charles chosen to go to Ireland, his beautiful 
hymns that have enriched the Psalmody of the 
world would probably never have been written. 
On how small a thing turns the destiny of individ- 
uals, Churches, empires. 

Charles Wesley and his Diary. 

While at Oxford he pursued his studies diligent- 
ly and led a regular and harmless life. But if 
John spoke to him on the subject of religion he 
would exclaim with much warmth, " What 1 ., would 
you have me become a saint all at once ! " In the 
twentieth year of his age he began to feel the im- 
portance of keeping a diary in which to register 
daily the state of his mind as well as the actions 
of each day. He knew his brother John had kept 
one for years, and therefore he wrote to him at 
Epworth, in January, 1729, "I would willingly 
write a diary of my actions, but I do not know 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 327 

how to go about it. What particulars am I to 
take notice of? Am I to give my thoughts and 
words as well as deeds in it? Am I to mark all 
the good and ill I do; and what besides? Must 
I take an account of my progress in learning as 
well as in religion ? What cypher can I make use 
of? If you would direct me to the same or like 
method to your own, I would gladly follow it, for 
I am fully convinced of the usefulness of such an 
undertaking." He began to keep the diary and 
did so for many years. It was not only a benefit 
to himself but has been useful to others. 

Charles Wesley and his Uncle. 

Matthew Wesley, a brother of Samuel Wesley, 
sen., was a celebrated physician in London, and 
was a man of varied talents. He was not religious, 
and sometimes made light of sacred things. John 
Wesley's going to Georgia he viewed as Quixotic. 
Charles was dining with him one day, when his 
uncle bestowed abundance of wit upon John Wes- 
ley's "apostolical project." He said, "When the 
French found any remarkably dull fellow among 
them they sent him to convert the Indians." Charles 
checked his raillery by repeating, 

" To distant lands the apostles need not roam, 
Darkness, alas ! and heathens are at home." 

Charles never after heard any more from his 
Uncle Matthew about John's " apostolical project." 

328 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

Ludicrous Scene. 

Charles and John "Wesley in the early days of 
their Christian experience were in the habit of 
spending a part of the Sabbath walking in the 
fields and singing psalms. One Sunday, while 
they were in the fields and just about to begin to 
sing, a sense of their ludicrous situation came upon 
Charles, and he burst into loud laughter. John 
was horror-struck at his want of reverence, and he 
inquired in an angry tone, " Charles, are you dis- 
tracted?" No sooner had he asked the question 
than he began to laugh as loud as Charles. They 
were obliged to return home without singing a 
line. * 

Charles Wesley and George Whitefield. 

Charles "Wesley had the high honor of being 
the spiritual father of George Whitefield, the un- 
equaled pulpit orator. Whitefield, when a student 
at Oxford, noticed the devout conduct of the Wes- 
ley's, with the ridicule to which they were subject, 
and desired to become acquainted with them. A 
poor woman in one of the work-houses had at- 
tempted to cut her throat, but was prevented. . 
George Whitefield heard of it, and knowing that 
the Wesleys were ready for every good word and 
work, sent an old apple woman of the college to 
inform Charles Wesley, charging her not to tell 
him who sent her. But she told him. Charles 

* Southey's Life of "Wesley, vol. i, p. 293. 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 329 

TVesley sent word to Mr. TThitefielcl to breakfast 
with him the next morning. Mr. TThitefield says. 
"I thankfully embraced the opportunity, and, 
blessed be God ! it was one of the most profitable 
visits of my life. My soul was at that time athirst 
for some spiritual friends to lift up my hands when 
they hung down, and to strengthen my feeble 
knees. He soon discovered it, and, like a wise 
winner of souls, made all his discourses tend that 
way/ 5 He put two books into his hands, one of 
which, he says, " was wonderfully blessed to my 
soul." He soon lent him another book entitled 
"The Life of God in the Soul.'- He says, "and 
though I had fasted, watched, and prayed, and re- 
ceived the sacrament so long, yet I never knew 
what true religion was till God sent me that ex- 
cellent treatise by the hands of my never-to-be- 
forgotten friend." 

When Charles was in Georgia, he wrote to Mr. 
TThitefield to join him and his brother in America. 
This is evident from the poetic epistle he aderessed 
to him years afterward : 

•• In a strange land I stood 
And beckoned thee to cross th' Atlantic flood ; 
T7ith true affection winged, thy ready mind 
Left country, fame, and ease, and friends behind ; 
And eager all Heaven's counsels to explore. 
Flew through the watery world and grasped the shore." 

After Mr. Whitefield became a Calvinist he 
wrote a tract against John TTesley's sermon on 
Free Grace, and submitted it to Charles Wesley 
for inspection. He returned it indorsed with these 


Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

significant words, "Put up again thy sword into 
its place." 

Charles Wesley and the Narrow Escape. 

In 1735 Charles went with his brother John to 
Georgia. The mission was a failure. Charles suf- 
fered much persecution, and plots and designs 
were laid to destroy him. It was a severe dis- 
cipline, under which he learned lessons that were 
very valuable to him in after years. One day he 
went to a myrtle grove, which was his Bethel, for 
devotional purposes, and while he was repeating, 
"I will thank thee, for thou hast heard me, and 
art become my salvation," a gun was fired from 
the other side of the bushes. Providentially he 
had just before turned from the end of the walk at 
which the shot entered. He heard the ball pass 
close by him. Had he not changed his position 
he would have been killed. But the Almighty 

Covered his defenseless head 
"With the shadow of his wing. 

Charles Wesley and the Drunken Captain. 

On the 5th of August, 1736, Charles Wesley 
embarked at Savannah for England. He soon 
found that the Captain had given his berth to an- 
other person, and his only bed was a chest. He 
adds, u What was still worse, I had no asylum to 
fly to from the Captain, the most beastly man I ever 
saw. A lewed, drunken, quarrelsome fool, praying. 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 331 

and vet swearing continually. The first sight I 
had of him was upon the cabin floor, stark naked 
and dead drunk," This was the beginning of SOr- 
rows. There was a terrific ocean storm ; all were 
alarmed except i; our happier Captain, who, having 
got his dose, could sleep day and night on a 
stretch, and defy either pumps or squall to awake 
him.*' The ship would have foundered had it not 
been for the skill and fidelity of the first Mate. 
The following dialogue between the Mate and Cap- 
tain, on the 20th of September, was taken down in 
short-hand by Charles Wesley. 

Mate. Captain Indivine, what would you have 
us do ? what course would you have us steer to- 
night ? 

Captain. Even what course you will; we have 
a fair wind. 

M. Yes, sir; and it drives us full upon land, 
which cannot be many leagues off! 

C. Then I think you had best keep forward. 

JI. Would you have us go on all night, and 
venture running upon the land ? 

C. I don't know. Go on. 

JL But there are shoals and rocks before us. 

C. ^Vhy, then, have a good look out. 

M. But you can't see thrice the ship's length. 
What would you order me to do ? 

C. These rebels and emissaries have excited you 
to come and ask for orders. I don't know what 
you mean. 

JI. Sir, nobody has excited me. I come, as is 
my duty, to my Captain for directions. 

332 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

O. Have you a mind to quarrel with me ? 

M. I have a mind to know what you will do. 

C. Xay, what will you do if you come to that ? 

M. Am I your Captain or you mine ? 

C. I am your Captain, and will make you know 
it, Mr. Man. Do what I order you, for you must 
and shall. 

JI. Why, sir, you order me nothing. 

C. You would not-have me come upon deck my- 
self surely. 

M. If you did I should not think it much amiss. 
Some captains would not have stirred off deck a 
moment in such a night as this. Here you lie, 
without so much as once looking out to see how 
things are. 

C. Yes, I have been upon deck this very day. 

31. But you have taken no account of any thing, 
or given yourself the least trouble about the ship 
for many days past. 

C. It is all one for that. I know where we are 

M. How far do you think we may be from land? 
C. Why, just thirty-five leagues. I am sure 
of it, 

M. How is that possible ? You have taken no 
observation this fortnight. Nor have we got one 
these four days. 

C. ISTo matter for that. I know we are safe. 

C. Sir, the most skillful sailor alive cannot know 
it. Shall we sail on, or shall we lie by ? Shall we 
alter our course ? Shall we stand on and off? 

The mate urged the questions for about an hour. 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 333 

and the Captain refused to answer, and concluded 
with " Jack, give me a dram." 

At three o'clock there was a cry of land. They 
were near rocks, and there was a severe gale. The 
uproar was so great it awoke the Captain, who ran 
to his rum, drank heartily, then looked out upon 
deck. Kot liking the looks, he returned into the 
cabin, saying, "Ay, ay, all will be well," and 
dropped to sleep again. After a perilous voyage 
they reached Boston the 24th of September, and 
Charles Wesley says, "Bidding a hasty farewell 
to our wretched ship and more wretched Captain, 
who for the two last days had, most happily for 
us, lain dead drunk on the floor without sense or 
motion," he went on shore. After spending a few 
weeks in Boston he returned in the same vessel 
with another Captain, and after a very dangerous 
voyage reached England, December 3, 1736. 

Charles Wesley and Y/illiam Law. 

Mr. Wesley had been a great admirer of Will- 
iam Law and his writings, particularly his " Serious 
Call to a Holy Life," and sought an interview with 
him for the purpose of receiving some special in- 
struction from one whom he had so greatly revered, 
and at whose feet he delighted to sit and learn. 
He was introduced to Mr. Law, " a tall, thin, bony 
man, of a stern and forbidding countenance." Mr. 
Wesley described to Mr. Law his spiritual state, 

334 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

and asked direction in regard to the course he 
should pursue. 

Mr. Law. Renounce yourself, and be not im- 

Mr. Wesley. With what comment shall I read 
the Scriptures ? 
L. None. 

W. What do you think of one who dies unre- 
newed ivhile endeavoring after it ? 

L. It concerns neither you to ask or me to 

Wi Shall I write once more to such a person ? 
Z. No. 

W. But I am persuaded it will do him good. 
L. Sir, I have told you my opinion. 
W. Shall I write to you ? 

L. Nothing I can either write or speak can do 
you any good. 

Thus ended the interview. It was as cheerless 
as the house of the dead. No doubt Wesley was 
greatly benefited by the meeting, for it was the 
last time he went to that source for instruction. 

— — • — 

Charles Wesley and Peter Boehler. 

This distinguished Moravian was not only use- 
ful to John Wesley, but also to his brother Charles. 
Charles was sick in London in February, 1737, and 
he was in a critical condition. He sent for his 
friend Boehler, who promptly obeyed the sum- 
mons, and attended his apparently dying friend. 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 335 

" Charles Wesley," he says, " has been very ill 
during the last night, therefore he sent for me at 
break of day and begged I would pray for him, 
for the health of his soul and body. He fell asleep, 
and the pain abated. He knew that both the af- 
fliction and the abatement came from the Lord." 
" Toward midnight," remarks Mr. Charles Wesley, 
"I received some relief from bleeding. In the 
morning Doctor Cockburn came to see me, and a 
better physician, Peter Boehler, whom God had 
detained in England for my good. He stood by 
my bedside and prayed over me, that now at last 
I might see the Divine intention in this and my 
late illness. I thought it might be that I should 
again consider Boehler's doctrine of faith ; exam- 
ine myself whether I was in the faith, and if not, 
never cease seeking and longing after it till I at- 
tained it." His recovery was gratefully commem- 
orated by the composition of the one hundred and 
fifty-fifth hymn in the Wesleyan Hymn Book, 
which presents a graphic portrait of the spiritual 
position of its gifted author. It consisted of seven- 
teen stanzas.* 

When Charles Wesley was converted it is said 
he shrunk from publishing what God had done for 
his soul. Peter Boehler said to him, " If you had 
a thousand tongues you should publish it with 
them all." Tradition informs us this urgent coun- 
sel led to writing the hymn 

" for a thousand tongues to sing 
My great Redeemer's praise ! " 

* Wesleyan Magazine, 1854, vol. ii, page 687. 

336 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

Charles Wesley and Mrs. Turner. 

Charles Wesley had been for years groping in 
spiritual darkness, 

"Without one cheering beam of hope 
Or spark of glimmering day." 

On a bright morning in May, 1738, he awoke 
wearied and sick at heart, but in high expectation 
of the coming blessing. He lay on his bed "full 
of tossings to and fro,'' crying out, " O Jesus, thou 
hast said, ' I will come unto you thou hast said, 
' I will send the Comforter unto you.' Thou hast 
said, 6 My Father and I will come unto you, and 
make our abode with you.' Thou art God, who 
canst not lie. I wholly rely upon thy promise. 
Accomplish it in thy time and manner." A poor 
woman, Mrs. Turner, heard his groaning, and con- 
strained by an impulse never felt before, put her 
head into his room and gently said, " In the name of 
Jesus of Nazareth arise and believe, and thou shalt 
be healed of all thine infirmities." He listened, 
and then exclaimed, " O that Christ would but 
thus speak to me ! " He inquired who it was that 
had whispered in his ear these life-giving words. 
A great struggle agitated his whole man, and in an- 
other moment he exclaimed, " I believe ! I be- 
lieve ! " He then found redemption in the blood 
of the Lamb, experiencing the forgiveness of sins, 
and could look up and 

" Behold, without a cloud between, 
The G-odhead reconciled." 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s, 337 

The hymn he wrote to commemorate the anni- 
versary of his spiritual birth shows the mighty 
change that had taken place, and is best expressed 
in his own language : 

" for a Thousand tongues to sing ! " 

Charles Wesley and the Unjust Man. 

Charles TTesley, having preached at Moorfields 
to about ten thousand, was walking across an open 
field to his afternoon appointment at Kennington 
Common, when he was met by a man who threat- 
ened to prosecute him for trespass. A few days 
after he was served with a writ by a Mr. Goter for 
walking; over his fields to Kennington. He sent 
Mr. Oakley to the lawyer, who confessed he did 
not so much as know what his client sued 3Ir. 
Wesley for. It made but little difference. A 
Methodist minister was to be punished in spite of 
justice and mercy. The bill of this most disgrace- 
ful suit has been preserved, with the receipt in the 
handwriting of the lawyer. 

" Goter versus Wesley. Damages, £10. Cost 
taxed, £9 16s. 8d. July 29, 1739. Received of 
Mr. Wesley, by the hands of Mr. Joseph Yerding, 
nineteen pounds, sixteen shillings, and sixpence, 
for damages and costs in this cause. 

" "William Gaxsox, 

" Attorney for Plaintiff P 

338 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

Charles Wesley wrote upon the instrument, " I 
paid them the things that I never took and on 
the back of it this significant sentence, " To be 
rejudged in that day." * 

Charles Wesley and the Presentment. 

The " Foundery," the humble place of worship 
occupied by the Methodists in May, 1741, was 
presented at Hicks' Hall as a seditious assembly. 
The Methodists had a friend at court, Sir John 
Ganson, who had showed them several favors. He 
objected that no persons were named in the pre- 
sentment. Then they presented the names of 
Charles Wesley, clerk; James Hutton, book-sel- 
ler ; Timothy Lewis, printer ; and Howell Harris, 
alias the Welsh apostle. But all in vain, for their 
friend Sir John quashed the whole concern, and 
made an end of the vexatious proceeding. 

Charles Wesley and the Magistrate at Kingswood. 

After the school had been opened at Kingswood 
it met with strong opposition from the magistrate 
there, who threatened to take the school for the 
use of the colliers. Charles Wesley visited him 
for the purpose of undeceiving him in regard to 
the nature of the school, when the following dia- 
logue took place : 

* Life of Jackson, page 159. 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

Wesley. I came to wait upon you in respect to 
your office, having heard that you were offended 
at the good we were doing to the poor colliers. I 
should be sorry to give you any just cause of 

Magistrate. Your school here would make a 
good workhouse. 

W. It is a workhouse already. 

M. Ay, but what work is clone there ? 

W. We work the works of God, which man 
cannot hinder. 

M. But you occasion the increase of our poor. 

W. Sir, you are misinformed ; the reverse of 
that is true. None of our Society is chargeable to 
you. Even those who were so before they heard 
us, who spent all their wages at the ale-house, now 
never go there at all, but keep their money to 
maintain their families, and have to give to those 
who want. Notorious swearers have only the 
praises of God in their mouths. The good done 
among them is indisputable. Our worst enemies 
can't deny, it. None who hear us continue either 
to swear or drink. 

31. If I thought so I would come and hear you 

W. Come. The grace of God is as sufficient 
for you as for our colliers. 

M. I shall not at all concern myself, for if what 
you do be for gain you have your reward ; if for the 
sake of God, he will recompense you. I am of 
Gamaliel's mind : " If this work be of men it will 
corne to nought." 

340 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

W. " But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow 
it ; lest haply ye be found to fight against God." 
Therefore follow Gamaliel's advice : " Take heed 
to yourselves ; refrain from these men and let 
them alone." 

Mr. Wesley adds : " He seemed determined to 
do so, and thus, through the blessing of God, we 
parted friends." 

Charles Wesley and the Archbishop of Canter- 

Charles and his brother met with powerful op- 
position not only from the mob, but from digni- 
taries in the Church. He was summoned to ap- 
pear before the Archbishop of Canterbury. He 
made his appearance, and began to make a state- 
ment, when the Prelate interrupted him. 

Archbishop. I do not dispute. What call have 

Wesley. A dispensation of the Gospel is com- 
mitted to me. 

A. That is to St. Paul. But I do not dispute, 
and will not proceed to excommunicate yet. 

W. Your Grace has taught me in your book on 
Church government that a man unjustly excom- 
municated is not thereby cast off from communion 
with Christ, 

. A. Of that I am the judge. 

TV. Is not Mr. Whitefield's success a spiritual 
sign, and sufficient proof, of his call ? 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 341 

N"o answer was given to this question by the 
Archbishop, and the interview closed 

Charles Wesley and the Highwayman. 

The 11th of October, 1737, Charles Wesley left 
Oxford to go to London. He sung the ninety- 
first psalm, and put himself under the divine pro- 
tection. His song was just ended when a man 
came up to him, showing his pistol, and demanding 
his money. Mr. Wesley gave him his purse. The 
robber inquired how much money there was. Mr. 
Wesley answered, " About thirty shillings." He 
inquired, "Have you no more?" "I will see," 
said Mr. Wesley, and put his hand into his pocket 
and gave him some half-pence. He repeated the 
question ; Mr. Wesley told him to search himself. 
This he declined doing. He ordered Mr. Wesley 
to dismount, and he obeyed. Mr. Wesley begged 
hard for his horse, and promised not to pursue him. 
He took his word, and returned the horse. Mr. 
Wesley had a thirty pound note in a private pocket. 
He rode gently on, praising God that his bags, 
watch, and gold the robber had left him, and 
spared his life. 

Charles Wesley's Servant and the Robbers. 

A servant of Charles Wesley was crossing the 
fields at night when five rogues seized him, and 
were about to rob, if not murder him. In the most 

342 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

simple manner he begged them to let him alone. 
His plaintive appeal affected the hearts of the 
robbers and they relented. One of them held np 
a lantern to his face and exclaimed, " I believe he 
is a Wesley. He has a very innocent look. Let 
him go, let him go," which they accordingly did, 
and the servant walked quietly home. 

Charles Wesley and the Mob. 

In March, 1740, Charles Wesley was beset by a 
mob at Bengeworth. He says " their tongues were 
set on fire of hell." One of the crowd proposed to 
take him away and duck him. He broke out sing- 
ing, with Thomas Maxfield, and allowed them to 
carry him whither they would. At the end of the 
street, near the bridge, they relented, and left him. 
But instead of retreating he took his stand there 
and sung, 

"Angel of God, whate'er betide, 
Thy summons I obey." 

He then preached to hundreds from "If God be 
for us, who shall be against us ? " The lions were 
changed into lambs. " Never," he says, " did I feel 
so much what I spoke. The word did not return 
empty, as the tears on all sides testified." 

Charles Wesley and the Fanatic. 

A set of fanatics, who went through convulsive 
movements and bodily contortions, sought to make 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 343 

converts among the early Methodists. The first of 
these with whom Charles Wesley was acquainted 
was an English proselyte residing at Wickham, to 
whom he was introduced on his way to Oxford. 
With this person he was not only to take up his 
lodging, but to sleep. The gentleman insisted that 
the French prophets were equal, if not superior, to 
the prophets of the Old Testament. Charles was 
not aware that his host himself was a gifted per- 
sonage till they retired to bed, when, as they were 
undressing, he fell into violent agitations, and 
gobbled like a turkey cock. "I was frightened," 
he says, " and began exorcising him with ' Thou 
deaf and dumb devil ! 5 He soon recovered from 
his fit of inspiration. I prayed and went to bed, 
not half liking my bedfellow, nor did I sleep very 
sound with Satan so near me." 

Charles Wesley and Primate Robinson. 

Dr. Robinson, the Primate of Ireland, thought 
much of his personal dignity, Charles Wesley 
and he were fellow-collegians, but they had not met 
for several years. They happened to meet at the 
Hot Wells, and conversed in a very good-natured 
manner on the variety of scenes they had passed 
through since they left college. The following 
conversation then took place between the Bishop 
and Mr. Wesley. It exhibits Charles Wesley's 
honesty as well as his readiness of thought : 

Primate. Mr. Wesley, I know your brother well 

344 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

I could never credit all I have heard respecting 
him and you. But one thing in your conduct 
I could never account for ; your employing laymen. 

Wesley. My Lord, it is your fault. 

P. My fault, Mr. Wesley ? 

W. Yes, my Lord ; yours and your brethren's ? 

P. How so, sir ? 

W. Why, you hold your peace, and the stones 
cry out. 

Here there was a pause, and they looked thought- 
fully at each other. 

P. Well, but I am told they are unlearned men. 

W. Some of them in many respects are unlearned 
men, " so the dumb ass rebukes the prophet." 

His Grace said no more. 

Charles Wesley Indicted. 

The Methodists visited Cork in 1749. For some 
time they met with very little opposition ; but the 
storm at last began to rage. Some of the clergy 
secretly got the Corporation on their side, and 
made use of a despicable fellow by the name of 
Nicholas Butler to be the leader of a mob. This 
captain of renown was accustomed to sell and sing 
ballads in the streets. He was dressed in a par- 
son's gown and bands, with a bundle of ballads in 
one hand and a Bible in the other. When he had 
vended his trumpery he led his ragged legions to 
such houses as were friendly to the Methodists, 
where they abused such as fell in their way, plun- 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 345 

dered their houses, took what they liked, and did 
what they pleased with impunity, supposing there 
was no law or justice to-be had for the Methodists. 
By this violence it was thought they could drive 
the Methodists out of Cork, if not out of Ireland. 
Failing in this they indicted six of the preachers, 
who happened to be in Cork at that time, at the 
Assizes, as vagabonds. Their names were Charles 
Wesley, Joseph Cownley, Robert Swindals, Samuel 
Wheatley, Charles Skelton, and John Haughton. 
The following is the indictment of Charles Wesley : 
" We find and present Charles Wesley to be a person 
of ill-fame, a vagabond, and a common disturber of 
his Majesty's peace, and we pray that he may be 
transported." Can we wonder that John Wesley 
pronounced this " a wonderful presentment, worthy 
to be preserved in the annals of Ireland for all suc- 
ceeding generations ? " 

Charles Wesley and the other preachers were 
arrested, and ordered into the dock. Their names 
being called the Judge inquired, "Where are 
they?" His Lordship was then told they were 
before him, He surveyed them with surprise, and 
said " They are a goodly company, they look well." 
He then called for the evidence of their guilt, and 
said " Bring on the witnesses." The first and prin- 
cipal witness was the notorious Butler. His name 
was called, and he took the witnesses' stand. The 
Judge looked at him with a suspicious eye, and 
asked him what business he followed. Butler hung 
his head down in confusion, and answered, " I sing- 
ballads, my Lord." The Judge lifted up his hands 


Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

with surprise, and said, " Here are c six gentlemen ' 
indicted as ' vagabonds, 3 and the first accuser is a 
'vagabond' by profession." Finding Butler had 
but little to say he set him aside. Another accuser 
was called forward, who was nearly of the same 
stamp with Butler, and he tried to play the buffoon 
and be witty. The Judge inquired concerning his 
calling. He answered with great impertinence, 
" I am an anti-Swaddler, my Lord." * This being 
an insolent answer to the magistrate he ordered 
him out of the Court-room, and would examine no 
more witnesses. The Judge then gave the Grand 
Jury a severe reprimand, and also the Corporation, 
who were present, for suffering such a vagrant as 
Butler to be the ringleader of the rabble to go up 
and down the city molesting respectable house- 
keepers, plundering their property, and persecuting 
men who injured none, but were desirous to reform 
mankind. Moreover, he looked at it as an insult 
to bring such a case before him. He made them 
ashamed of their cause, and of the vile agents 
employed in it. He instantly discharged the pris- 
oners. Butler was discarded by his employers, 

* The name Swaddlerwas first given to a Methodist minister 
named John Cennick. In 1T46 he preached in Dublin on 
Christmas-day from "Ye shall rind the babe wrapped in swad- 
dling clothes. 1 ' etc. A priest in the congregation, who. as John 
"Wesley shrewdly said, "probably did not know the expression 
was in the Bible, a book he was not much acquainted with." 
called Cennick "a Swaddler." So the mob called them Swad- 
dlers. The name spread with wonderful rapidity. In the 
famous riots in Cork, in 1749. the mob shouted through the 
streets, day and night. "Five pounds for a Swaddlers head I " 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


and the persecution ceased. Butler fled to Dublin, 
and would have famished had not the Methodists 
supported him. Thus they returned good for evil, 
complying with the apostolic injunction, " If thine 
enemy hunger, feed him," etc. 

The Slanderer. 

The Rev. Mr. Bailey, of Cork, accused Charles 
Wesley "of monstrous, shocking, and amazing 
blasphemies." He said that one day as Charles 
Wesley was preaching at Hammond Marsh he 
called out, "And has any one got the Spirit ? " and 
when none answered, he said, " I am sure some of 
you have, for I feel virtue go out of me." This 
was a vile slander. John Wesley, in his reply, 
said, " Sir, do you expect any one to believe this 
story ? I doubt it will not pass even in Cork, un- 
less with your wise friend who said, " Methodists ! 
Ay, they are the people who place all their religion 
in wearing long whiskers ! " 

_ »t« . 

Charles Wesley accused of Treason. 

Charles Wesley was publicly accused of dis- 
loyalty to the government. When he was itiner- 
ating in Yorkshire he was charged with having 
used treasonable words, and witnesses were sum- 
moned before the magistrates of Wakefield, to tes- 
tify against him. Fortunately for him, he learned 

348 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

this in time to present himself and confront the 
witnesses. He had prayed the Lord to call home 
his banished ones, and this the accusers construed 
in good faith to mean the Pretender. Charles 
Wesley with perfect sincerity disclaimed any such 
intention. " I had no thoughts," he said, a of pray- 
ing for the Pretender, but for those who confess 
themselves strangers and pilgrims on the earth — 
who seek a country, knowing this is not their 
home. You, sir," he added, addressing himself to 
a clergyman on the bench, "you, sir, know the 
scriptures speak of us as captive exiles, who are 
absent from the Lord while present in the body. 
We are not at home till in heaven." The magis- 
trates were men of sense; they perceived that he 
explained himself clearly; that his declarations 
were frank and unequivocal, and they declared 
themselves perfectly satisfied, and permitted him 
to go in peace. 

_ — 

Charles Wesley and the Officer. 

Mr. Wesley had many a severe encounter with 
mobs. In Sheffield the Society was as a flock of 
sheep among wolves, the clergymen having stirred 
up the people, so they were ready to tear the 
Methodists in pieces. Once, as he was beginning 
service there, an officer of the army contradicted 
and blasphemed. Mr. Wesley took no notice of 
him but went on with the hymn. The stones flew 
thick and fast, striking the people and the desk . 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


in which sat Charles Wesley and David Taylor. 
The mob threatened to pull the house down, and 
to avoid it, ^ir. Wesley gave notice that he would 
preach in the street and look the enemy in the 
face. The people who were in the house followed 
Mr. Wesley, and the Captain laid hold of him 
and abused him. He gave the Captain a tract 
entitled " A Word in Season ; or. Advice to a 
Soldier," and then prayed particularly for his maj- 
esty King George, after which he preached the 
word. The rioters threw stones, several of them 
striking Charles Wesley in the face. He then 
prayed for sinners as servants of their master, the 
devil. Then the Captain was greatly enraged, and 
made a savage attack for abusing the " King, his 
master.'' He forced his way through the crowd, 
drew his sword, and presented its point at 3Ir. 
Wesley's breast, as if he meant to run it through 
his body. Charles Wesley opened his vest, and 
with a smiling face fixed his eye upon the Captain, 
and said with the utmost calmness, I fear God 
and honor the King." In a moment the lion was 
changed into a lamb, his countenance altered, he 
heaved a deep sigh, and put his sword into its 
scabbard and withdrew. He had said to one of 
the company, " You shall see, if I do but hold my 
sword to his breast he will faint away." When 
Charles Wesley heard of it he replied, tc So. per- 
haps. I should if I had only his principles to trust 
to ; but if at that time I was not afraid, no thanks 
to my natural courage." 

350 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

Charles Wesley and the African Princes. 

Two African princes were carried off from Old 
Calabar by a Bristol captain after they had seen 
him and his crew massacre their "brother and three 
hundred of their poor countrymen. They were six 
years in slavery, made their escape to England, and 
were thrown into irons, but were rescued by Lord 
Mansfield. For two months Charles TVesley had 
them under his care and instruction. They pro- 
fessed the Christian faith, and on the 22d of Feb- 
ruary, 17 74, he baptized them. He said they both 
received the outward visible sign and the inward 
spiritual grace in a wonderful manner and meas- 
ure. They were sent back to their brother, the 
king of Calabar, and Mr. TTesley rejoiced to hear 
of their safe arrival. The next year he writes, 
" My two African children got safe home." 


A Sermon Completed. 

Charles TTesley visited Alnwick, and, as the cus- 
tom was in those days, went to Church on Sunday 
morning. The clergyman preached from " Beware 
of false prophets which come in sheeps' clothing, 
but inwardly they are ravening wolves," and de- 
livered a bitter philippic against the Methodists, 
whom he described as dangerous wolves, and 
against whom, with great zeal, he warned his 
hearers. The sermon was no doubt selected for 
the occasion. Knowing that Charles Wesley was 

Anecdotes of t lie Wesleys. 351 

to be one of his congregation, this zealous divine 
read, with great boldness, his spirited composition. 
But, alas ! " foreknowledge he had none." Had he 
'foreseen the use which was immediately to be made 
of his own harangue, and the effect which in a very 
short time would be produced upon the public 
mind, he would rather have slept than preached 
that morning. When the service was over Mr. 
Wesley stood upon a gravestone, and being im- 
mediately surrounded by the congregation, he 
preached from the verse immediately following the 
text of the clergyman : " By their fruits shall ye 
know them." He introduced his subject by say- 
ing he had risen merely to finish the gentleman's 
sermon, which only explained one part of the sub- 
ject. He then described the false prophets by their 
fruits ; fruits, indeed, that were too abundant among 
some "prophets," but which had not been found 
among those to whom the gentleman's sermon ap- 
plied. The people were astonished, convinced, and 
charmed, and from that time many attended the 
ministry of the Methodists who had not attended 
before, and much good was done.* 

. e>« ■ 

Charles Wesley and the Maniac. 

Charles Wesley in 1755 went to a madhouse to 
see a brother Cowper, with whom he had former- 
ly been acquainted, who was a maniac. The notice 
he gives of this visit is both curious and char- 

* WesleyaD Magazine, 1826. 

352 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

acteristic. " Mr. Cowper has been dumb for four 
months ; during that period he has never spoken a 
word, nor did they know he ever would. But the 
deaf and dumb devil was disturbed by our prayers, 
and forced to say, ' Charles, thou art a priest of 
Baal. I do not receive thee?"' Mr. Wesley re- 
plied, " Satan, thou art a liar, and knowest that I 
am a priest of God and a servant of Jesus Christ, 
and this poor soul shall know it when thou art cast 
out by our prayers." Charles Wesley was skepti- 
cal concerning demoniacal possession. But he 
says in regard to Mr. Cowper, " His madness is (if 
such there be) diabolical." 

Charles and Mrs. John Wesley. 

Mrs. John Wesley abused her husband, and 
Charles came in frequently for his share. There- 
fore he used to call her " his best friend," because 
no one told him of his faults with half the vehe- 
mence and particularity which characterized her 
rebukes and admonitions. In a vein of pleasantry 
he writes, "I called two minutes on Mrs. John 
Wesley before preaching at the Foundery, and all 
that time had not one quarrel." 

Charles Wesley and the Passionate Lady. 

It is related in " The Bishop ; or, Letters to a 
Prelate," that a lady once came to Charles Wesley 
complaining that she was the chief of sinners, the 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 353 

worst of transgressors, utterly lost and helpless. 
He replied, "I have no doubt, Madam, that you 
are bad enough." She instantly flew into a pas- 
sion, and declared that she was no worse than 
her neighbors, accused him of slandering her, and 
from her gestures she would have boxed his ears 
if he had not suddenly retired from the room. 

Charles Wesley and the Tempting Offers. 

In early life Charles "Wesley refused to be heir 
to a large estate. But few would refuse a " living" 
or a fortune; but Charles Wesley refused both 
when he came to manhood. " I have before me," 
says his friend Henry Moore, " the strongest testi- 
mony that can be given at this day, that he re- 
fused a living of five hundred pounds a year, 
choosing to remain among the people that he 
loved. He also refused a large fortune offered 
him by a lady whose relatives had quarreled with 
her ; telling her, in his usual short way, c It is un- 
just.' The lady, after trying in vain to bend his 
spirit, informed him that she had struck his name 
out of her will, but that, nevertheless, her family 
should not possess the fortune, Mr. Wesley was 
advised to accept the fortune and give it to the 
relatives himself. He replied, £ That is a trick of 
the devil ; but it wont do. I know what I am 
now, but I do not know what I should be if I were 
thus made rich.' We may call this another ' fair 
escape.' " 


354 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

Charles Wesley and Vincent Perronet. 

Vincent Perronet was the Vicar of Shorehani, 
Kent, and such was his relation to Methodism 
that Charles Wesley called him " the Archbishop of 
the Methodists." He was very wise in counsel, 
and Charles and John were in the habit of going 
to him for advice. He was a kind of patriarch 
among the Methodists, and deservedly held in 
high veneration. He wrote a number of able 
tracts in defense of Methodism. When Charles 
first preached in his pulpit, (to which the Vicar 
heartily welcomed him,) his parishioners mobbed 
the preacher. They roared and stamped, blas- 
phemed and rang the bell, but Mr. Perronet threw 
his mantle over him. For forty years after he 
welcomed both the Wesleys and their sons in the 
Gospel to his pulpit. 

He wrote to Charles Wesley : " I make no doubt 
Methodism, notwithstanding all the wiles of Satan, 
is designed by Divine Providence to introduce the 
approaching millennium." The old patriarch died 
in triumph in the ninety-second year of his age, 
and Charles Wesley preached his funeral sermon 
from " Mark the perfect man, and behold the up- 
right, for the end of that man is peace." His 
children were all converted, and two of them, 
Charles and Edward, became itinerant preachers, 
and members of the Wesleyan Conference. Ed- 
ward was the spiritual son of Charles Wesley, and 
traveled with him for a time. He was the author 
of the noble hymn, enough to immortalize any man, 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 


" All hail the power of Jesus' name ! 

Let angels prostrate fall ; 
Bring forth the royal diadem, 

And crown him Lord of all 

Xo wonder that in dying, in 1791, he exclaimed 
in holy triumph, " Glory to God in the height of 
his divinity ! Glory to God in the depths of his 
humanity ! Glory to God in his all-sufficiency ! 
Into his hands I commend my spirit ! " 

Charles Wesley and the Blasphemer. 

Charles TTeslev was very bold in denouncing 
sin and sinners, and very often he -woke up their 
ire. He preached in the church of his friend Mr. 
Bennet, where scenes occurred which show not 
only the rudeness of the primitive times, but the 
familiarity with which he addressed his audiences. 
As he was speaking against their drunken revels 
one of his auditors contradicted him, and used 
most blasphemous language. Charles "Wesley in- 
quired, "TTho is it that pleads for the devil?' 5 
The "blasphemer, who declared his sin as Sodom, 
and hid it not, answered, i; I am he that pleads for 
the devil.*' Mr. Wesley says, " I took occasion 
to show the revelers their champion, and the whole 
congregation their state by nature. Much good I 
saw immediately brought out of Satan's evil. 
Then I set myself against his avowed advocate, 
and drove him out of the Christian assembly."* 
* Jackson's Life of Charles "Wesley, page 318. 

356 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

Charles Wesley and Harmless Diversions. 

In the same church, at the same time, occurred 
another singular scene. Mr. Wesley was warning 
the people against what are called " harmless di- 
versions," and declared that by them he had been 
kept dead to God, asleep in the arms of Satan, and 
secure in a state of damnation for eighteen years. 
There were three divines present besides Mr. Wes- 
ley. Mr. Meriton cried out, " And I for twenty- 
five ! " " And I," exclaimed Mr. Thompson, " for 
thirty-five ! " " And I," added Mr. Bennet, " for 
about seventy ! " Four clerical witnesses confirmed 
the declaration.* 


Charles Wesley and Lord Ferrers. 

Lord Ferrers was the brother of the Rev. Yfal- 
ter Shirley, and a cousin to Lady Huntingdon. 
He committed a foul murder that shocked the 
whole kingdom. He sent for his steward, Mr. 
Johnson, to attend him, having sent all his men 
away, so there were none in the house except the 
Earl and three servant girls. When Mr. Johnson 
entered the room the Earl locked the door, then 
ordered him to settle his account, and afterward 
produced a paper purporting to be a confession of 
the steward's villainy, and required him to sign it. 

* Jackson's Life of Charles Wesley, page 318. 

A7iec dotes of the Wesleys. 


Mr. Johnson refused, and the Earl, drawing a pis- 
tol out of his pocket, ordered him to kneel down, 
which the terrified man did on one knee. His 
lordship called out, so loud as to be heard by one 
of the women at the kitchen door, " Down on 
your other knee. Declare you have acted against 
Lord Ferrers. Your time has come, and you must 
die." He then fired, and the ball entered Mr. 
Johnson's body. He insulted and tormented the 
dying man for several hours. Mr. Johnson died 
the next . morning, his murderer rejoicing in what 
he had done. The Earl was imprisoned in the 
Tower of London, and then was tried by his 

ISTo one felt a greater sympathy for the criminal 
and his relatives than Charles Wesley. Mr. Shir- 
ley wrote him a letter, thanking him for his sym- 
pathy and kindness, beginning, " Blessed be the 
great God, who has enriched your heart with love, 
and filled your mind with wisdom ; and blessings 
upon blessings on thy head, thou sweet messenger 
of comfort, for thou hast greatly refreshed my 
bowels, and caused me to rejoice even in tribula- 
tion. May God reward your sweet, loving soul ! " 
He then expresses a desire to meet him or his 
brother John in London. He prays that the soul 
of his brother may be saved, no matter what his 
fate. Touchingly he says, " I know, sir, you will 
not leave me to pray alone. O let us raise up an 
army of blessed saints who will besiege the throne 
of Grace. Surely he will not be cast out." 

The heart of the right honorable murderer was 

358 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

as hard as the nethermost mill-stone. Sympathy, 
tears, prayers affected him not. Prayer was of- 
fered for him in the closet, family, and in the 
house of God on the Lord's day. 

Charles Wesley attended the trial, (April, 1760,) 
and wrote an account of it in a letter to his wife. 
" They entered with the utmost state. First the 
Barons, then the Lords, Bishops, Earls, Dukes, 
and Lord High Steward ; most of the royal fam- 
ily, the Peeresses, and chief gentry of the king- 
dom, and the foreign embassadors present, made it 
one of the most august assemblies in Europe. The 
trial proceeded. After the testimony and the defense 
each lord was asked whether the Earl was guilty, 
and each answered, as he put his hand upon his 
breast, " Guilty, upon my honor." The Earl was 
sentenced to be hung. Charles Wesley continued 
to pray for the Earl, and composed three hymns of 
supplication for him, and wrote to those in the 
country, saying, u Help together in your prayers 
for a poor murderer." 

The Earl was as hard-hearted as ever after being 
sentenced to death. Instead of being taken to the 
place of execution in a mourning-coach he went 
in his own splendid carriage, drawn by six horses, 
clad in his splendid wedding dress. On the scaf- 
fold he kneeled while the Lord's prayer was re- 
peated, and with great energy ejaculated, " O God, 
forgive all my errors ! pardon all my sins ! " 
Well may Thomas Jackson, who relates the above, 
say, " Many a penitent convict trusting in Christ 
has Charles Wesley comforted when doomed to 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 359 

suffer the extreme penalty of the law, but there is 
no comfort in infidelity, with all its pride and af- 
fectation of philosophy." * 

The Perilous Voyage. 

Charles Wesley passed through many perils. In 
October, 1748, he had a very narrow escape from 
a watery grave; He had embarked at Dublin on a 
packet for England ; and while walking the deck at 
half past eight, he inquired of the Captain what time 
he expected to be in the harbor. He said, " By 
nine o'clock." Mr. Wesley said, " We would com- 
pound for ten." That moment the mainsail got 
loose and flew overboard, and it seemed as if it 
would drag them all over with it. The Captain 
called, "All hands on deck ! " and thrust Mr. Wesley 
into the cabin. Immediately he heard a cry, " We 
have lost the mast." A passenger ran upon deck 
and brought the news that it was not the mast, 
but the poor Captain, with whom Mr. Wesley was 
talking a moment before. Mr. Wesley knelt down 
and commended his spirit to the mercy of God in 
Christ Jesus. He says, "I thought of those lines 
of Doctor Young : 

" 1 No warning given ! unceremonious death ! 
A sudden rush from life's meridian joys, 
A plunge opaque beyond conjecture ! "' 

All on board were in exceeding danger. The 
sailors were so confounded they knew not what to 
Jackson's Life of Wesley, page 5*73. 

360 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

do. The vessel was near the shore, and in danger 
of being wrecked. One of the passengers ran to 
the helm, and gave orders as if he was Captain. The 
ship righted, and about ten they got safe into har- 
bor, and Mr. Wesley says in regard to their safety, 
" I inscribe it to our Invisible Pilot." 

Charles Wesley and the Thunder-storm. 

The 23d of June, 1747, Charles Wesley preached 
at Colham Chapel. He says, " While I was speak- 
ing of our Lord's appearing we were alarmed with 
the loudest clap of thunder I ever heard. I thought 
it must have cleft the house. Most of the congre- 
gation shrieked out as if the day of the Lord were 
come. A thought darted into my heart as quick 
as lightning, ' What if it should be the day of 
judgment ! ' I was filled with faith stronger than 
death, and rejoiced in hope of the glory of God. 
The same spirit rested on all the faithful while I 
broke into singing, 

" 1 So shall the Lord, the Saviour, come, 
And lightnings round his chariot play ! 

Te lightnings, fly to make him room ; 
Ye glorious storms, prepare his way.' 

I went on for half an hour describing that scene. 
The heart of every person present rejoiced or trem- 
bled. A mixed cry of horror and triumph was 
heard till I dismissed them with the blessing. 
Afterward we heard that a house on one side of 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 361 

our chapel was almost demolished, both roof and 
walls, by the thunder-clap, the lead of the windows 
melted, and six persons struck to the ground. On 
the other side of us a gibbet was split into a thou- 
sand pieces." 

Poetical Eccentricities. 

When at the University at Oxford John dreaded 
to have Charles come into his room. Sometimes, 
full of poetry, he would run against his brother's 
study-table and overthrow it. Or, if the "fine 
frenzy" was not so high, he would derange the 
books and papers, ask some questions without 
always waiting for a reply, repeat some poetry 
that then just struck him, and then abruptly leave 
the room. It required some Christian patience in 
John, who was all method and order, to bear with 
these vagaries. 

Charles and his Brother's Request. 

When John Fletcher died John requested Charles 
to write an elegy upon his character, that he might 
print it with his funeral sermon. He made no 
reply. Charles Wesley never wrote a line on any 
subject that was given to him. Some time after, 
Henry Moore inquired of John if he had received 
from Charles the elegy upon Fletcher. He said, 
"No; my brother, I suppose, is waiting for a 
thouo'ht. Poets, you know, are maggoty.* 5 

362 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

Habits in Old Age. 

Mr. Moore informs us that when Charles Wesley 
was nearly fourscore he retained something of his 
eccentricity. He rode every day upon a little 
horse, gray with age, clothed for winter even in 
summer. When he mounted his horse, if a subject 
struck him he proceeded to expand it and put it 
in order. He had a card and pencil in his pocket, 
and wrote a hymn in short-hand. He often rode to 
the City Road parsonage, and entered crying out, 
" Pen and ink ! pen and ink ! " Supplied with 
these, he wrote the hymn he had been composing. 
This done, he would look round on those present 
and salute them with much kindness, ask after their 
health, give out a short hymn, and thus put all in 
mind of eternity. Frequently, on such occasions, 
he would give out the following stanza from one of 
his own sweet hymns :* 

" There all the ship's company meet 

Who sail'd with the Saviour beneath ; 
With shouting, each other they greet, 

And triumph o'er sorrow and death. 
The voyage of life's at an end, 

The mortal affliction is past ; 
The age that in heaven they spend 

For ever and ever shall last." 

Charles Wesley and Young's Right Thoughts. 

Charles Wesley was a great admirer of Young's 
Night Thoughts. He not only read them, but 

* Moore's Life of Wesley. 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 363 

frequently transcribed them. He said, " No writ- 
ings but the inspired have been more useful to me." 
And yet there were times when he transcended 
Young in poetic grandeur and sublimity. Take 
two examples. Dr. Young writes thus : 

" Of man immortal! hear the lofty style! 

If so decreed, th' Almighty will be done. 

Let earth dissolve, yon ponderous orbs descend, 

And grind us into dust, The soul is safe ; 

The man emerges ; mounts above the wreck 

As tow'ring flame from nature's funeral pyre ; 

O'er devastation, as a gainer, smiles ; 

His charter his inviolable rights, 

Hell pleased to learn from thunder's impotence, 

Death's pointless darts, and hell's defeated storms.' 7 

Wesley's harp is tuned to loftier strains : 

" Stand the omnipotent decree ! 

Jehovah's will be done I 
Nature's end we wait to see, 

And hear her final groan. 
Let this earth dissolve, and blend 

In death the wicked and the just ; 
Let those pond'rous orbs descend, 

And grind us into dust: — 
Rests secure the righteous man ; 

At his Redeemer's beck, 
Sure to emerge and rise again, 

And mount above the wreck ; 
Lo 1 the heavenly spirit towers, 

Like flames o'er nature's funeral pyre ; 
Triumphs in immortal powers, 

And claps his wings of fire ! " 

364 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

Charles Wesley and Virgil. 

Virgil was a great favorite with Charles Wesley. 
He had committed large portions of the iEneid to 
memory. One day, having spent some time in 
religions conversation, he said to Henry Moore, 
" Come, I'll give yon two hundred lines of Virgil." 
He made snch nse of his Latin as few would ever 
dream of. Twice it delivered him out of serious 
difficulties. When, on his return voyage from 
Charleston, the drunken Captain Indivine poured 
forth volleys of invective against him, Charles 
Wesley defended himself by repeating Virgil in 
Latin. On another occasion Mrs. John Wesley had 
locked her husband and Charles in a room, from 
whence they could not escape. She then drew 
their portraits, and told them of their errors, real 
or imaginary, with a power neither of them could 
resist nor interrupt. Fortunately, when the storm 
raged with the utmost fury Charles thought of his 
ancient mode of defense, and he gave utterance to 
the strains of the Mantuan bard in such a manner 
and at such a length that the storm abated, the 
winds ceased to murmur, and the thunders expired, 
and he and his brother were permitted to make 
good their retreat. 

The Persecutor. 

A bitter persecutor in Wexford, Ireland, hid 
himself in a sack in a barn where the Methodists 
worshiped. It was his intention, when the Method- 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 365 

ists were engaged in acts of devotion, to suddenly 
open the barn doors and let the mob outside come 
in. The Methodists began to sing, with their 
primitive sweetness, fire, and power, one of Charles 
Wesley's hymns. The Irishman listened, and the 
music was so sweet he resolved to hear them sing 
the hymn through before he disturbed the meeting. 
The singing not only thrilled his ears and his soul, 
but his conscience, and he was awakened, and 
trembled, and groaned. The people, hearing an 
unusual noise proceeding from a sack, were greatly 
alarmed, and some thought it was the devil. At 
last some one, more courageous than the others, 
opened the sack, and there lay the persecutor, a 
weeping penitent. He cried for mercy, and was 
pointed to the sinner's Friend, and found redemp- 
tion in his blood, even the forgiveness of sins. He 
identified himself with Methodism, and ever after- 
ward maintained his integrity. 

Charles Wesley and the Colliers. 

The colliers at Newcastle thronged to hear 
Charles Wesley, felt the power of truth, and were 
reformed. Upon one occasion, when he was preach- 
ing there, nine or ten thousand attentive people 
listened to his word. His soul was drawn out so 
that he preached two hours. " Many years of suf- 
fering," he said, "was compensated by that one 
service." But the country was lighted up with 
blazing fires, which gleamed on the faces of preacher 

366 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

and people from every quarter. This gave rise to 
that exquisite hymn which alludes to the rapid 
spread of religion from small beginnings by means 
of revival. 

" See how great a flame aspires, 

Kindled by a spark of grace ! 
Jesus' love the nations fires, — 

Sets the kingdoms on a blaze. 
To bring fire on earth he came ; 

Kindled in some hearts it is ; 
that all might catch the flame, 

All partake the glorious bliss ! " 

Charles Wesley at the Land's End. 

It gives additional interest to a hymn to know 
the circumstances under which it was written. 

Dr. Watts, it is said, when seated on an elevated 
place in Southampton on a beautiful spring-clay, 
having a charming view of the Isle of "Wight in 
the distance, that looked like a fairy land, and the 
river Itchen, embanked by sweet fields, flowing 
before him, wrote that sweet hymn, 

" There is a land of pure delight 
Where saints immortal reign," etc. 

Charles Wesley was standing on the well-known 
promontory called Land's End, in Cornwall, at the 
point of which two seas join. It is narrow and 
high, and when one looks down there is great 
danger of falling into the sea. Here he wrote one 
of his most impressive hymns : 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


"Lo! on a narrow neck ofland, 
'Twixt two unbounded seas, I stand, 

Secure, insensible: 
A point of time, a moment's space, 
Removes me to that heavenly place, 

Or shuts me up in hell. 

" God, mine inmost soul convert, 
And deeply on my thoughtful heart 

Eternal things impress : 
Give me to feel their solemn weight, 
And tremble on the brink of fate, 
' And wake to righteousness. 

" Before me place, in dread array, 
The pomp of that tremendous day, 

When thou with clouds shalt come 
To judge the nations at thy bar ; 
And tell me, Lord, shall I be there, 

To meet a joyful doom ? " 

Charles Wesley and the Stone-quarry Men. 

The people in Portland were mostly employed 
in the stone-quarries. Charles Wesley, before he 
preached to them, wrote the hymn beginning, 

" Come, thou all-victorious Lord, 

Thy power to us make known ; 
Strike with the hammer of thy word, 

And break these hearts of stone." 

An immediate answer was given to the prayer it 
contains. Charles Wesley says, " The rocks were 
broken in pieces, and melted into tears on every 

368 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

Charles Wesley and the Sailors. 

In one of the seaport towns of England Charles 
Wesley was interrupted in the public service by a 
company of half-drunken sailors. Just as Mr. 
Wesley commenced singing the hymn for an out- 
door preaching the jolly tars struck up one of their 
lewd songs called " Nancy Dawson." The tune, 
voices, and sentiments were of course very differ- 
ent, and a great discord was the result. His quick 
ear, however, soon mastered the tune and meter of 
their song. A hymn was instantly composed, and 
at the very next service, when his blue-jacket 
friends were ready to repeat their coarse opposi- 
tion, he gave out 

" 'Listed into the cause of sin, 

Why should a good be evil ? 
Music, alas, too long has been 

Pressed to obey the devil. 
Drunken, or lewd, or light, the lay 

Flowed to the soul's undoing; 
Widened and strewed with flowers the way 

Down to eternal ruin. 

" Who on the part of God will rise, 

Innocent sound recover; 
Fly on the prey and take the prize, 

Plunder the carnal lover; 
Strip him of every moving strain, 

Every melting measure ; 
Music in virtue's cause retain, 

Kescue the holy pleasure ? 

" Come let us try if Jesu's love " 
"Will not as well inspire us ; 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 369 

This is the theme of those above, 

This upon earth shall fire us. 
Say, if your hearts are tuned to sing, 

Is there a subject greater ? 
Harmony all its strains may bring, 

Jesus's name is sweeter. 

"Jesus the soul of music is; 

His is the noblest passion ; 
Jesus's name is joy and peace, 

Happiness and salvation. 
Jesus's name the dead can raise, 

Show us our sins forgiven, 
- Fill us with all the life of grace, 

Carry us up to heaven." 

There are three more stanzas to the hymn. 

The tune for " Nancy Dawson " was instantly 
set to these cheery and telling lines, and the poor 
mariners finding " all the wind taken out of their 
sails," gave up the contest as hopeless, and allowed 
him to finish the service in peace.* 

Charles Wesley and the Theatrical Woman. 

Mr. Rich was the proprietor of Co vent Garden 
Theater, London. His wife was a woman of great 
personal beauty, of superior accomplishments, and 
an eminent actress. Having heard Charles Wesley 
preach at West-street Chapel, she was convinced 
of sin, renounced the theater, sought salvation 
through Jesus, and became a new creature. Her 
conversion greatly displeased her husband, who 

* Kirk's Charles Wesley. 

370 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

insisted upon her reappearance on the stage, and 
persecuted her on account of her Methodistical 
scruples. Mrs. Rich was 

" Like an iron pillar strong, 

And steadfast as a wall of brass." 

Mrs. Rich declared that if she ever went to the 
theater again she would publicly bear her testi- 
mony against theatrical amusements. Seeing her 
resolution, her husband at length discontinued his 
importunities. Mr. Rich sung in his theater in a 
new scene — in the character of a Harlequin Preach- 
er — to convince the town he was not a Methodist. 

Mr. Rich died, leaving his widow in affluent 
circumstances. She retained a high regard for 
Charles Wesley until the end of life. Her house 
was his home, and her parlors witnessed the hearty 
welcomes he received. There he used to meet 
Handel, the great composer, who instructed Mrs. 
Rich's daughters in music. Charles Wesley said 
of one of them, " She is the greatest miracle of all 
accomplishments, both of mind and body, that I 
have ever seen.*' * 

Charles Wesley and Handel. 

Charles, with John Wesley and Lampe, fre- 
quently met Handel at Mrs. Rich's. Handel com- 
posed tunes expressly for Charles Wesley's hymns. 
He set to music those beginning " Sinners obey 
the Gospel word," and " O love divine, how sweet 
° Jackson's Life of Charles Wesley. 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 371 

thou art ! 55 and " Rejoice, the Lord is King. 5 "' The 
musical manuscripts, in Handel's own handwriting, 
are preserved in the Cambridge University. Han- 
del was so profane, and had a temper so ungovern- 
able, that he would swear in three different lan- 
guages f and yet Charles Wesley, in a beautiful 
elegy on the death of Dr. Boyce, places him in 
heaven among the worshipers before the throne of 

" The generous, good, and upright heart, 

That sighed for a celestial lyre, 
' Was tuned on earth to bear a part, 

Symphonious with that warbling choir 
Where Handel strikes the golden strings, 
And plausive angels strike their wings." 

Charles Wesley did not believe that Handel's 
transcendent musical genius would save him. He 
lost his property, and toward the close of life he 
became blind. A wonderful change passed over 
him. He regularly attended divine worship, and 
exhibited a spirit of deep devotion. Charles Wes- 
ley then had reason for representing the great 
composer of " the Messiah " striking his golden 
harp with angels and archangels before the throne 
of God.* 

Charles Wesley and James Hervey. 

James Hervey, well known as the author of 
" Meditations among the Tombs," etc., was one of 
the Oxford Methodists, and belonged to the Holy 

* Heaton's Lecture, page 51. 


Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

Club. As has been remarked before, lie was a 
great friend of the Wesleys till near the close of 
his life. He then became a Predestinarian, and 
entered the field of controversy against his old 
friends. When his life was drawing to a close he 
made a request that certain manuscript letters of 
his against John Wesley should be destroyed. 
He had a mercenary brother, who thought that 
money could be made by the sale of the book. 
He placed the manuscript in the hands of William 
Cudworth, with liberty to put out and put in 
just what pleased him. After having altered and 
fixed it to suit himself, " The Eleven Letters " were 
published under the honored name of James Her- 
vey. They did immense mischief, and produced a 
vast amount of prejudice against John Wesley. 
On the death of James Hervey, before this publi- 
cation, Charles Wesley wrote two beautiful hymns 
in honor of his friend. After the publication of 
" The Eleven Letters" some one wrote> requesting 
him to write an epitaph on Mr. Hervey, to be placed 
on a tablet. Instead of complying with the re- 
quest he wrote the following, which was found 
among his papers : 

" O'erreached, impelled by a sly Gnostic's art 
To stab his father, guide, and faithful friend, 

Would pious Hervey act th' accuser's part ? 
And could m life like his in malice end ? 

" No : by redeeming love the snare is broke ; 

In death his rash ingratitude he blames ; 
Desires and wills the evil to revoke, 

And dooms th' unfinished libel to the flames. 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 373 

M Who then for filthy gain betrayed his trust, 
And showed a kinsman's fault in open light ? 

Let Mm adorn the monumental bust, 

Th' encomium fair in brass or marble write. 

" Or if they need a nobler trophy raise, 
As long as Theron and Aspasia live, 

Let Madan or Eomaine record his praise ; 
Enough that Wesley's brother can forgive" 

Charles Wesley and Lady Huntingdon. 

Lady Huntingdon was a very superior woman, 
and distinguished for her piety and her noble 
deeds of benevolence. Charles Wesley and she 
were great Mends, and for her he felt a lofty 
admiration. They often corresponded. He had 
spent much time at her house, and received 
many favors from her. After the publication of 
the Minutes of the Conference of 1770, in which a 
question was asked, " Have we not leaned too 
much toward Calvinism?" she and her friends 
took great offense at the Minutes, and a circular 
letter was sent out against them. Lady Hunting- 
don sent one to Charles Wesley, accompanied by 
a long letter to him, in which she brings several 
accusations against John, and thus tried to preju- 
dice him against his brother. In it she speaks of 
" Papists," " Popery unmasked." She says John's 
" principles set up another Gospel," " and make 
us appear rebels to God our King, and the most 
wicked enemies of our country." He could not 


Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

bear this effort of her Ladyship to prejudice him 
against his brother, with whom for years he had 
fought side by side the battles of the Lord. He 
was exceedingly grieved, and wrote on the back of 
her letter, " Lady Huntingdon's last, unanswered 
by John Wesley's brother" 

Charles Wesley and the Rich Banker. 

Charles Wesley would not natter a prince. In 
writing to Ebenezer Blackwell, the rich banker 
heretofore mentioned, he shows true friendship 
and sterling fidelity. He says, " I have often had 
it on my mind to tell you my friendly fears, lest 
your engagement with the gentlemen of your club, 
should insensibly draw you in further than you 
are aware into the ways and spirit of the world. 
Perhaps, by and by, you might be led into their 
diversions, which you know can never be done to 
the glory of God. Perhaps you may, by little and 
little, become partaker of their sins, at least by 
your silence at their idle words or oaths. There is 
no standing neuter in the midst of worldly men, 

4 We must or imitate or disapprove, 
Must list as their accomplices or foes.' " 

Again he says, "The question is ever on my 
heart, 'What shall I do to make the most of a 
short life?'" 

He urges him to perseverance : " Go on, be it 
ever so feebly and slowly, yet go on, and you shall 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 375 

gee the utmost salvation of God. I often rejoice 
in hope of it both for myself and friends. There 
must be a marvelous change in you and me when 
we are 

' Above all fear, all anger, and all pride.' " 

This faithful friend of the W esleys maintained 
his integrity till his death, April 21, 1792. Charles 
Wesley was with him in his final hour. In his 
manuscripts are two hymns bearing the same date, 
one a "Prayer for Mr. Blackwell Departing," the 
other, " On the Death of Ebenezer Blackwell." 

Charles Wesley and Dr. Thomas Coke. 

Doctor Coke was one of the most useful men of 
the age in which he lived. At the age of thirty he 
identified himself with the early Methodists. John 
Wesley found in him a "fellow helper to the 
truth," and regarded him as his "right hand 
man." When the Doctor had fully identified him- 
self with Methodism his attachment to the Estab- 
lished Church was far from being strong, and he 
thought it wise for the Methodist body to separate 
from it. This opinion he expressed in open Con- 
ference, where the question had often been pre- 
viously mooted. Charles Wesley was present and 
heard the Doctor, and as his mind was sensitively 
alive on this point he thundered out the word 
" ~No " with all the vehemence of which he was 
capable, accompanying the emphatic utterance with 

376 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

a stamp of his foot upon the floor of the chapel. 
On hearing this astounding negative upon his pro- 
posal the Doctor dropped upon his chair as if he 
had been shot, and said not another word on the 

Charles Wesley and Adam Clarke. 

Adam Clarke relates the following : " I was per- 
sonally acquainted with the Rev. Charles Wesley, 
and a singular occurrence took place in the city 
of Bristol on the occasion of one of my visits there. 
Charles Wesley ascended the pulpit to preach. I 
sat behind him. He gave out a hymn and prayed, 
but was completely in the trammels, where he had 
often been before. Mr. Wesley then took a text, 
spoke a little, but soon found that he could not go 
on. He then tried to relieve himself by praying, 
and then rose from his knees and took another 
text, but that also was as fruitless as its predeces- 
sor. On finding it so he took up the hymn book 
and beckoned me to step forward. On giving me 
the book he left the pulpit and retired to the 
rooms over the chapel. Though I had no promise 
of his return, I indulged a slight hope that he 
would not disappoint the congregation by leaving 
the service to me. I turned to a hymn and gave 
it out ; I trembled for fear. Had it been left to 
my own judgment I could have done well enough ; 
but his intentions and return were alike unknown. 

* "Wesleyan Magazine, 1860, vol. ii, page *742. 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 377 

I did not even know till afterward where he was. 
I went leisnrely on with the hymn, giving out 
verse after verse till I came to the sixth, and just 
as I was giving up for lost to the people Mr. 
Wesley made his appearance. He commenced by 
telling an anecdote about Mr. La Trobe, who was 
then not expected to live long; after which he 
exclaimed with a strong voice, yet a little drawl- 
ing, 'Believe — love — obey. 5 He then proceeded 
in the following strain: 'Who are they that be- 
lieve? All true Christians. Who are they that 
love ? All those that believe. Who are they that 
obey? Such as believe and love. 5 His remarks 
were in abrupt and broken sentences. He was 
fast in this way in the North once, and it was the 
salvation of one of the preachers. 55 

Charles Wesley and the Young Preacher. 

Dr. Clarke says, "A young preacher had run 
away from his circuit wholly discouraged. He had 
an opportunity of hearing Charles Wesley preach. 
Charles, alas ! was in the trammels, and was 
obliged to give up. The young man thought, 
6 Well, bad as I am, it was never thus with me. 5 
He took courage, and returned to his circuit. 55 

Charles Wesley and Wilberforce. 

Wilberforce may be classed among the friends 
of Charles Wesley. He was a young statesman 

378 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

just rising into life. Their first interview took 
place at the house of Mrs. Hannah More, and is 
thus described by "Wilberforce : "I went in 1786 
to see Hannah More, and when I came into the 
room Charles Wesley arose from the table, around 
which a numerous party sat at tea, and coming 
forward gave me his solemn blessing. I was 
scarcely ever more affected. Such was the effect 
of his manner and appearance that it altogether 
overset me, and I burst into tears, unable to re- 
strain myself." * 

Charles Wesley and " The Man of Fashion." 

Charles Wesley wrote the following in 1784, 
four years before his death. It shows that he 
possessed his sprightliness, vigor of thought, and 
humor until old ap;e. 

"What is a modern man of fashion? 
A man of taste and dissipation : 
A busy man, without employment, 
A happy man, without enjoyment. 
Who squanders all his time and treasures 
On empty joys and tasteless pleasures ; 
Yisits, attendance, and attention, 
And courtly arts, too low to mention. 

"In sleep, and dress, and sport, and play, 
He throws his worthless life away ; 
Has no opinion of his own, 
But takes from leading beaux the ton ; 

* Life of Wilberforce. vol. i, page 248. 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 379 

"With a disdainful smile or frown, 
He on the riffraff crowd looks down • 
The world polite, his friends and he, 
And all the rest — Nobody ! 

" Taught by the great his smiles to sell, 
And how to write, and how to spell ; 
The great his oracles he makes, 
Copies their vices and mistakes ; 
Custom pursues, his only rule, 
And lives an ape, and dies a fool." 

Charles Wesley and the Music Seller. 

Few people love to pay bills more than once. 
When Charles Wesley was near the end of his 
jonrney and reduced to great weakness, in the 
month of February, 1788, he received a note from 
a music seller, asking for the balance of a small 
account of some years' standing. Mr. Wesley had 
little doubt but that he had paid it. He immedi- 
ately transmitted the money with the following 
note: "If there is the least doubt Mr. Wesley 
always takes the safest, that is, his neighbor's, side, 
choosing to pay a bill twice or twenty times rather 
than not at all. He will be obliged to Mr. Wright 
for a line of acknowledgment that he is now out 
of debt." 

A Rare Volume. 

William R. Williams, D.D., of New York City, 
presented to the editor of these pages " The Life of 

380 Anecdotes of the Wesley s< 

the Most Learned and Reverend and Pious Dr. H. 
Hammond, by John Fell, D.D." It was printed 
in London, 1661. It belonged to the library of 
Charles Wesley, and contains his autograph, " C. 
Wesley, 1734," with the words, "Longe Sequar," 
expressing his desire to follow, though but re- 
motely, the footsteps of the saintly Hammond. 
When he wrote his autograph in the old book 
Charles Wesley was only twenty-six years of age, 
and a College Tutor in Oxford. The volume was 
seventy-three years old when he wrote his name in 
it, and it probably had belonged to his father, 
Samuel Wesley, in the old library at Epworth. 

Charles and John Wesley on Reputation. 

Numerous and bitter were the attacks made 
upon the character of John Wesley in the year 
1775. He was publicly accused of crimes sufficient 
to exclude him from the kingdom of grace and glory. 
But innocence has nothing to do with fear. Miss 
Sarah Wesley, his neice, says he had promised 
to take her with him to Canterbury and Dover. 
"My dear father, to whom the reputation of my 
uncle was far dearer than his own, saw the im- 
portance of refutation, and set off to the Foundery 
to induce him to postpone his journey, while I in 
my own mind was lamenting such a disappoint- 
ment, having anticipated it with all the impatience 
natural to my years. Never shall I forget the 
manner in which my father accosted my mother on 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 


his return home. 'My brother,' said he, 'is an 
extraordinary man. I placed before him the char- 
acter of a minister; the evil consequences which 
might result from his indifference to it ; the cause 
of religion ; stumbling-blocks cast in the way of the 
weak, and urged him by every relative and public 
motive to answer for himself and stop the publica- 
tion. His reply was, ' Brother, when I devoted to 
God my ease, my time, my life, did I except my 
reputation ? Xo. Tell Sally I will take her to 
Canterbury to-morrow.' " 

Charles Wesley and his Sister, Mrs. Wright. 

His sister Mehetabel was the tenth child, and 
when she was eight years old could read the Greek 
Testament. She was full of wit and humor, and 
possessed fine poetic talents. She was very un- 
fortunate in her marriage, and led a wretched life. 
She died in peace. Charles TTesley felt the most 
tender sympathy for her in her sufferings, and 
loved her with the purest affection, as the follow- 
ing from his Journal will show: "Marrh 8, 1751. 
I prayed with my sister Wright, a gracious, tender, 
trembling soul; a bruised reed which the Lord 
will not break." March 21, he says he called on 
her a few moments before her soul was set at 
liberty, and had sweet fellowship with her in ex- 
plaining these solemn words, " Thy sun shall no 
more go down," etc. "The 26th of March," he 
says, " I followed her to her quiet grave, and wept 
with them that wept." 

382 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

This woman of blighted hopes and blasted ex- 
pectations wrote the following epitaph upon herself , 

" Destined while living to sustain 

An equal share of grief and pain, 

All various ills of human race 

Within this breast had once a place. 

Without complaint she learned to bear 

A living death, a long despair, 

Till, hard oppressed by adverse fate, 

O'ercharged, she sank beneath its weight, 

And to this peaceful tomb retired, 

So much esteemed, so long desired ! 

The painful mortal conflict's o'er, 

A broken heart can bleed no more ! " 

Charles Wesley and his Sister Martha. 

Charles Wesley was one day relating with much 
apparent pleasure how useful his father was to the 
prisoners when he was confined in Lincoln Castle. 
" By his constant reading, prayers, and preaching," 
said he, " the whole jail was reformed." Mrs. Hall 
was a lofty-spirited woman, and she chided him, ex- 
claiming with peculiar emphasis, " Brother Charles, 
how can you speak of these things ? " He replied 
in his usual short way, " If you are ashamed of 
your poverty you are ashamed of your Master." 

Charles Wesley and his Sister Kezziah. 

% Kezzie was the youngest daughter of Samuel 
Wesley. When Charles was excluded from the 
Churches, and began to preach present salvation, 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 383 

Kezziah objected to the doctrine of justification 
by faith. She adhered to the notion she was a true 
believer, though she did not bring forth the fruits 
of faith. " My sister," said he, " who would not give 
up her pretensions to faith, told me, half angrily, 
i Well, you will know in the next world whether 
I have faith or no.' I then asked her, e Will you then 
discharge me in the sight of God from speaking to 
you again ? If you will, I will promise never more 
to open my mouth till we meet in eternity.' She 
burst into tears, fell on my neck, and melted me into 
fervent prayer for her." He was present when she 
died, March 9, 1741; He says, "Yesterday morn- 
ing Sister Kezzie died in the Lord Jesus. He 
finished his work, and cut it short in mercy. Full 
of thankfulness, resignation, and love, without pain 
or trouble, she commended her spirit into the hands 
of Jesus and fell asleep." 

Charles Wesley and his Daughter Sarah. 

Mr. Wesley took great pains in the cultivation 
of her intellect. One day, during her childhood, 
when she was repeating her Latin lesson to him 
before she had sufficiently mastered it, he said, 
somewhat impatiently, " Sarah, you are as stupid 
as an ass." She said nothing, but lifted her eyes 
with meekness, surprise, and imploring affection. 
On beholding her look he immediately burst into 
tears, and finished the sentence by adding, "and 
as patient." * 

* Jackson's Life of C. Wesley. 

384 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

Charles Wesley, his Daughter, and the Prisoners. 

Charles Wesley was the prisoner's friend. He 
was desired to preach the last sermon to some mal- 
efactors under sentence of death in Newgate. 
Sarah was then a little girl, and her father asked 
her to accompany him. Her mother shuddered 
with horror at the idea of taking her daughter to 
such a scene, and Sarah replied that her feelings 
were so tender she would never have strength to 
endure it. He made no remark, and during the 
evening showed no displeasure. Mr. Wesley always 
retired at nine o'clock, and it was Sarah's custom 
to attend him to his bed-chamber. She did so 
that evening, and heard him repeating to himself, 
"Sick and in prison, and ye visited me not." 
Sarah was silent, but thoughtful. The next morn- 
ing he called her at six o'clock, and she told him, 
" Father, I will go with you to Newgate this morn- 
ing," and notwithstanding her mother's fears she 
went with him. On their entrance to the prison 
the jailer gave them vinegar, saying there had 
been jail fever among the prisoners; but this did 
not terrify her. Sarah was placed in a pew near 
the unhappy culprits, and the only sound she heard 
was the clinking of their chains. Charles Wesley, 
after entering the pulpit, was so overcome by his 
sympathies that it was many minutes before he could 
begin the prayer. Then he burst forth with an 
energy which impressed the whole auditory, " O let 
the sorrowful sighing of the prisoner come up before 
thee! According to the greatness of thy power 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 385 

preserve thou those who are appointed to die." 
His whole sermon was alike affecting. Afterward 
he went to speak to the condemned prisoners, and 
each seemed very contrite. 

When they returned home there was a lady at 
his house who learned where they had been, and 
seeing the pale face of Sarah, asked her father 
what possible good could result from taking his 
daughter to such a place. Mr. Wesley then, in 
most eloquent language, showed the vast benefits. 
" It expanded our sympathies, it excited gratitude 
to our heavenly Sather for the grace which alone 
preserved any human being from similar offenses 
to their fellow-creatures, it excited our prayers for 
them," etc., etc.* 

Mrs. Charles Wesley's Singing. 

Mrs. Wesley used to accompany her husband in 
his extensive journeys, generally riding behind 
him on horseback. At one time they put up at 
an inn, and after having partaken of some refresh- 
ments she went into the garden, and there sat 
down to rest. " It was a fine summer evening, 
and though wearied with the journey of fifty 
miles, a heavenly calm came over her spirit cor- 
responding with the scene around her. She raised 
her sweet and melodious voice in a hymn of praise 
to her Saviour, who had so freely shed abroad his 
love in her heart. Her singing attracted the at- 
tention of some young ladies in an adjoining gar- 

*Wesleyan Magazine, 1839, page 831. 

386 Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 

den, who stood in silent attention on the other side 
of the hedge listening to strains which were equally 
devout and tasteful. Their father was a clergy- 
man, who came and joined them with equal delight. 
When Mrs. Wesley had finished he complimented 
her upon her voice and skill, and invited her to 
sing in his church on the following Sabbath ; but 
having learned who she was, and being given to 
understand that if he would have her in his choir 
he must allow her husband to occupy the pulpit, 
he declined the services of both. A Methodist 
sermon, even from a clergyman,*he could not tol- 
erate upon any terms." * 

Charles Wesley's Last Hymn. 

" In age and feebleness extreme," Charles Wes- 
ley lay one day silent and quiet for some time. 
He then called for Mrs. Wesley, his faithful wife, 
and requested her to write the following lines as 
he dictated them : 

"In age and feebleness extreme, 
Who shall a helpless worm redeem ? 
Jesus, my only hope thou art, 
Strength of my failing flesh and heart : 
could I catch a smile from thee, 
And drop into eternity ! " 

Was there ever a better dying song ? 

* Jackson's Life of Charles Wesley, page 455. 

Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 387 


The poet of Methodism had a son who bore his 
name, and was born December 11, 1757. Charles 
Wesley, Jun., was a musical prodigy in his in- 
fancy. Before he was three years old he mani- 
fested great talents for music, and in early life 
rose to eminence in the profession. No one ever 
excelled him in performing Handel's music on the 
organ. Two of the kings of England, George III. 
and George IV., employed him for a long time to 
play in their presence, and were highly delighted 
with his performances. Like his father, he was a 
man of small stature, and exhibited the eccentrici- 
ties of genius. He abounded in anecdote. Sev- 
eral that follow were related by him. For years 
Charles Wesley, Jun., was a member of the Wes- 
leyan Society in London, a good man with a 
pure Christian character. The 23d of May, 1834, 
he died in great peace in London, and was gath- 
ered to his fathers. 


Charles Wesley, Jun., and King George. 

King George III. is well known to have been 
very fond of music, particularly that of Handel. 
Charles Wesley excelled in playing the composi- 
tions of that great master. He became a special 

388 Anecdotes of the Wesley >s. 

favorite with his Majesty. At one time he offered 
himself as a candidate for the vacant situation of 
organist at St. Paul's Cathedral, when he met with 
a painful repulse. On appearing before the eccle- 
siastics, with whom the appointment lay, and pre- 
senting his claims to their confidence, they said to 
him abruptly, " We want no Wesleys here." The 
King heard of this unseemly act, and was deeply 
grieved. He sent for the obnoxious organist to 
Windsor, and expressed his strong regret that he 
should have been refused in such a manner and 
for such a reason, adding, with his own frankness 
and generosity, " Never mind, the name of Wesley 
is always welcome to me." 

At another time, after King George had lost his 
sight, Mr. Wesley was one day with the venerable 
monarch alone, and the King inquired, " Mr. Wes- 
ley, is there any body in the room but you and 
me?" "No, your Majesty," was the reply. The 
King then declared his persuasion that Mr. Wes- 
ley's father and uncle, with Mr. Whitefield and 
Lady Huntingdon, had done more to promote the 
spread of true religion in the country than the 
whole body of the dignified clergy who were so 
apt to despise their labors.* 

Charles Wesley, Jun., and King George IV, 

Charles Wesley, Jun., used to speak of King 
George IV. as an admirable judge of music. He 

* TVesleyan Magazine, 1834. 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s, 389 

was very fond of Charles Wesley, Jim., not only 
for his ability as a performer, but because, such 
was the tenacity of his memory, he scarcely 
ever had occasion to refer to his books. What- 
ever favorite composition the King might call for 
Mr. Wesley was prepared to play without delay or 
hesitation. In one of his visits to Carlton House 
one of the pages refused to admit him by the front 
entrance, but ordered him to go round and seek 
admission by some less honorable way. He 
obeyed. The King saw him approach, and in- 
quired why he came to the palace in that direc- 
tion. Mr. Wesley explained, and his Majesty 
sending for the page, gave him such a rebuke as 
he was not likely soon to forget, and commanded 
that whenever Mr. Wesley visited the palace he 
should be treated with all possible respect. 

— •+* — 

The Bishop's Rebuke. 

Charles Wesley, Jun., was dining with the ven- 
erable Bishop Burgess, remarkable for his theo- 
logical learning, and for the zeal and ability with 
which he defended the principles of Protestant 
Christianity. There was a young clergyman at 
the dinner-table who seemed desirous of attracting 
attention by the avowal of his partialities as a 
minister of the Established Church. " My lord," 
said he, addressing the Bishop, " when I was pass- 
ing through I saw a man preaching to a 

3Q0 Anecdotes of the Wesleys. 

crowd in the open air. I suppose he was one of 
John Wesley's itinerants." "Did you stop to 
hear him ? " inquired the Bishop. " O no," said 
the clergyman, "I did not suppose he could say 
any thing worth hearing," The Bishop ended the 
conversation by saying, " I should think you are 

mistaken, Mr. . It is very probable that that 

man preaches better sermons than you or I could 
have done. Did you know, sir, that this gentle- 
man," pointing to Charles Wesley, " is John Wes- 
ley's nephew ? " 

Charles Wesley, Jun., and his Sister Sarah. 

Sarah Wesley was younger than her brother 
Charles. She was finely endowed, and had great 
influence over her brother. At a certain time he 
was greatly dejected, feeling that his talents had 
not been adequately rewarded. He came to his 
sister in a melancholy mood, and said, "All my 
works are neglected. They were performed at 
Windsor, but no one minds them now." Sarah 
answered him in a sprightly tone, "What a fool 
you would be to regret such worldly disappoint- 
ment ! You may secure a heavenly crown and im- 
mortal honor, and have a thousand blessings which 
were denied to poor Otway, Butler, and other 
bright geniuses. Johnson toiled for daily bread 
till past fifty. Pray think of your happier fate." 
"True," said he, with sweet humility, and took 
away his productions. Having recorded this anec- 

Anecdotes of the Wesley s. 391 

dote, she adds, " Lord, sanctify all these mundane 
mortifications to him and me. The view of an- 
other state will prevent all regrets." 

Charles Wesley, Jim., and his Uncle John. 

In early life Charles formed an attachment for 
an amiable girl, but of inferior birth. His father 
was not pleased, and wrote to him, " c If any man 
would learn to pray,' the proverb says, £ let him 
go to sea. 5 I say, 4 If any man would learn to 
pray let him think of marrying.' " The engage- 
ment met with strong opposition from the mother, 
and she mentioned it with much concern to John 
"Wesley. He said, " Then there is no family blood. 
I hear the girl is good, but of no family." " Xor 
fortune either," said the mother of Charles. John 
"Wesley, who was as far above those sentiments as 
the heavens are above the earth, ever preferring 
sound sense and religion before money and an hon- 
orable ancestry, encouraged his nephew, and sent 
him fifty pounds as a wedding gift. But some 
way the engagement was broken off, and Charles 
doomed himself to perpetual bachelorship. 




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